How African American Spirituals Moved From Cotton Fields to Concert Halls

After the Civil War, Touring Groups of Black College Singers Popularized Slavery-Era Songs, Giving Rise to a New Musical Genre

“Swing low, sweet chariot….” These words are familiar to many Americans, who might sing them in worship, in Sunday school, around campfires, in school, and in community choruses. But the black singers responsible for introducing this song, and hundreds of other slave spirituals, to white America after the Civil War remain underrecognized almost 150 years later.

Spirituals are sacred songs composed anonymously by black Americans. Before the Civil War they were sung in the privacy of black spaces—the brush arbor, the praise house, the cotton field, the levee. After the …

The Black Freedom Colonies of Appalachia Where Former Slaves ‘Could Speak Their Minds’

Though Their Stories Are Still Overlooked, African Americans in Mountain Communities Like Liberia, South Carolina Are Emerging From History

Beneath the brush on the sloping hillside facing the Blue Ridge Mountains in upper Pickens County, South Carolina, lay a hand-carved soapstone tombstone bearing a simple inscription: Chanie Kimp/Died/Aug. 6, …

Why Has America Been So Reluctant to ‘Own’ the South?

A Preeminent Historian Explores How a Region Central to U.S. Identity Gets Written Out of the National Narrative

James C. Cobb is Emeritus B. Phinizy Spalding distinguished professor in the history of the American South at the University of Georgia. He has published 13 books and many articles …

The South Carolina Monument That Symbolizes Clashing Memories of Slavery

In Charleston, Blacks and Whites Have Viewed the Bronze Likeness of Racist Ideologue John C. Calhoun From Radically Different Angles

In the center of Charleston, South Carolina, in a verdant green space that plays host to farmers markets, festivals, and sunbathing undergraduates, stands a monument of John C. Calhoun, the …

The Sarcastic Civil War Diarist Who Chronicled the Confederacy’s Fall

Raised in Plantation Privilege, Mary Boykin Chesnut Was Unprepared for the Trauma of War and Defeat

“February 18, 1861…. I do not allow myself vain regrets or sad foreboding. This Southern Confederacy must be supported now by calm determination and cool brains. We have risked all, …

The South Carolina Aristocrat Who Became a Feminist Abolitionist

After Moving to Philadelphia and Joining the Quakers, Angelina Grimké Rededicated Her Life to Fighting for Racial Equality

Angelina Grimké’s future seemed clear the day she entered the world. Born a Southern aristocrat in Charleston, South Carolina in 1805, she was destined to become an enslaver; born female, …