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Citizenship, nineteenth-century Black activists argued, is not who one is, but rather what one does. Between the Revolutionary era of the 1770s and the onset of the U.S. Civil War in 1861, Black intellectuals defied ongoing enslavement, disenfranchisement, and anti-Black violence to develop an expansive theory of citizenship based in everyday practices of community making, according to Derrick R. Spires, associate professor in the Department of English.

In this live Chats in the Stacks webinar, Spires discusses ideas of citizenship defined by political participation, mutual aid, critique, and revolution, from his book The Practice of Citizenship: Black Politics and Print Culture in the Early United States (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), which was dubbed as “essential reading” by Reviews in American History. A discussion session moderated by Eric Acree, director of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library and curator of Africana Collections in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections follows the talk.