Free People of Color and Their Roles in the American Slave Trade: Background information when reading Let Us Descend

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Let Us Descend

A Novel

by Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward X
Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
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  • Published:
    Oct 2023, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Ahima
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About this Book

Free People of Color and Their Roles in the American Slave Trade

This article relates to Let Us Descend

Photo of printed pages of the Code Noir with red stamp In Jesmyn Ward's Let Us Descend, one of Annis's enslavers is a woman. Typically, when people think about enslavers and those perpetuating slavery as a system, they often think about white men. Some may find it surprising that women played a significant role in the slave trade, too. Furthermore, white people were not the only ones who owned slaves or participated in upholding slavery. In Let Us Descend, one of the people facilitating Annis's sale is a free woman of color — a fact that reflects the reality of pre-Civil War New Orleans.

To examine how slavery functioned in the American South, it is imperative to understand the full scope of the slave trade, and many of us have an incomplete picture of this devastating history. One helpful angle in expanding our understanding is seeing how free people of color were cogs in the machine that kept it going.

Free people of color in the Americas have a complicated, robust history. This is especially true in Louisiana, where ...

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