At this year’s Southern Historical Association conference, UNC History alumnus Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. (PhD, 2014) was awarded the 2022 Sydnor Award for best book in southern history published last year. Milteer’s book, Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South was published with UNC Press in 2021. It examines the growing challenges faced by free people of color in the U.S. south from the colonial period through the Civil War. On his website, Dr. Milteer explains:
On the eve of the Civil War, most people of color in the United States toiled in bondage. Yet nearly half a million of these individuals, including over 250,000 in the South, were free. In Beyond Slavery’s Shadow, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. demonstrates that from the colonial period through the Civil War, the growing influence of white supremacy and proslavery extremism created serious challenges for free persons categorized as “negroes,” “mulattoes,” “mustees,” “Indians,” or simply “free people of color” in the South. Segregation, exclusion, disfranchisement, and discriminatory punishment were ingrained in their collective experiences. Nevertheless, in the face of attempts to deny them the most basic privileges and rights, free people of color defended their families and established organizations and businesses. Free people of color were both privileged and victimized, both celebrated and despised in a region characterized by social inconsistency. Milteer’s analysis of the intersections between hierarchies of wealth, gender, and occupation with ideas promoting white supremacy and discrimination reveals a wide range of social interactions and life outcomes for the South’s free people of color and helps to explain societal contradictions that continue to appear in the modern United States.
Dr. Milteer is now an assistant professor of history at George Washington University. You can see more books by UNC faculty and alumnus on our website.
Congratulations, Dr. Milteer!