This learning resource tells the stories of the ‘struggles for liberty’ in the lifelong fight for social justice by African American freedom-fighters in the USA and in Britain and Ireland in the 19th century. For these antislavery campaigners and social justice activists, ‘words were weapons’ in the freedom struggle. Writing and delivering thousands of autobiographies, histories, narratives, speeches, letters and essays in the US and UK, they relied on the inarguable moral and political power of the ‘living human voice’ to do hard-hitting justice to the untold and repeatedly silenced ‘story of the slave.’

Extracts of these autobiographies, histories, narratives, speeches, letters and essays are reproduced in this resource.

This resource is the result of the research undertaken by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) University of Edinburgh US-UK project, ‘Our Bondage and Our Freedom: The Struggles for Liberty of the Anna Murray and Frederick Douglass Family’ in collaboration with the following US/UK organizations and institutions:

  • Walter O. and Linda Evans Foundation, Savannah, Georgia.
  • Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Maryland
  • The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Anacostia, Washington D.C.
  • Department of Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • National Library of Scotland