Friday, March 03, 2017

Birmingham Bound: Author Talk and Book Signing with Sydney Nathans

What: Author talk and book signing for A Mind to Stay: White Plantation, Black Homeland
by Sydney Nathans
When: March 13, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Free and open to the public. Book will be available for purchase. This program is cosponsored by the Birmingham Public Library Archives and the Birmingham African American Genealogy Study Group.

In A Mind to Stay historian Sydney Nathans tells the rare story of African Americans who moved from being enslaved to becoming owners of the very land they had worked in bondage, and who have held on to that land from emancipation through the civil rights era.

The story began in 1844, when North Carolina planter Paul Cameron bought 1,600 acres near Greensboro, Alabama, and sent out 114 enslaved people to cultivate cotton and enlarge his fortune. In the 1870s, he sold the plantation to emancipated black families who worked there. Drawing on thousands of letters from the planter and on interviews with descendants of those who bought the land, Nathans unravels how and why the planter’s former laborers purchased the site of their enslavement, kept its name as Cameron Place, and defended their homeland against challengers from the Jim Crow era to the present day.

Through the prism of a single plantation and the destiny of black families that dwelt on it for over a century and a half, A Mind to Stay brings to life a vivid cast of characters and illuminates the changing meaning of land and landowning to successive generations of rural African Americans. Those who remained fought to make their lives fully free―for themselves, for their neighbors, and for those who might someday return.

The Birmingham Bound author series recognizes authors who researched their books in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. Historians, journalists, and other writers from around the world have produced hundreds of books using the Archives’ collections and these books include five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

All programs are free and open to the public. For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or

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