The Christian Science Monitor

'The Bone and Sinew of the Land' restores a lost chapter of US history

Before any former slaves were promised “40 acres and a mule,” before anyone uttered the words “Go west, young man,” free black Americans flocked to the nation’s western frontier. There, in the sprawling territory that would become states like Michigan and Illinois, many plowed the land that they themselves owned.

For a time, they had the same rights as their white neighbors. Then came oppression and violence, resistance and resilience, and historical oblivion.

We’ve long forgotten

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