The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Black Culture Research is pleased to make an announcement.
They announce Dr Vincent Brown is the winner of the 2021 Harriet Tubman Prize for his book Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Belknap / Harvard University Press, 2020). The Harriet Tubman Prize awards $ 7,500 for the best non-fiction book published in the United States on the slave trade, slavery and anti-slavery in the Atlantic world.
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A jury composed of eminent historians Drs. Herman Bennett, Stephanie Jones-Rogers and Brooke Newman selected the winner from three finalists chosen by a national committee of librarians and academics. In addition to Brown Tacky’s revolt, the other finalists were Erika Denise Edwards Hiding in plain sight: black women, the law, and the creation of a white Argentine republic (University of Alabama Press. 2020) and Christine Walker’s Jamaican Ladies: Slave Women and the Creation of the British Atlantic Empire (University of North Carolina Press, 2020).
The jury commented on the winning title:
“Vincent Brown Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War…[presents] a surprisingly new sight of an iconic slave rebellion, the Tacky Revolt, which he convincingly shapes as an African war against Atlantic slavery and the British Empire.
Drawing on colonial archives consisting of travel accounts, Royal African Company registers, slave trader registers, Board of Trade registers, Admiralty Court registers, diaries, correspondence, administrative sources and contemporary histories, Brown composes a detailed description of African political histories, trade and naval routes, European imperial conflicts, the plantation regime, sugar cultivation, inaccessible mountains, public roads and the secret paths that make up the Atlantic world in symbiosis.
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Simply put, Brown’s spatial reconstruction of the landscape and seascape is brilliant. It offers the reader a level of political and social contextualization that truly advances Atlantic history and the study of the African diaspora. The reader discerns how the conflicts and military experience in Africa are redeployed in the Americas, thus positioning enslaved insurgents as enemy combatants and political actors. This change in perspective is engendered by Brown’s nuanced delineation of the Atlantic and the plantation regime as a theater of war. Brown’s interpretive work, supported by detailed readings and excavations from the source material, is truly remarkable. The reader is familiar with the reconstruction of an 18th century world that seems surprisingly alive, palpable and real. “
âIt is hard to imagine a higher honor than being associated in this modest and indirect way with the legacy of Harriet Tubman. Tacky’s revolt could never be more than a partial and uncertain statement about the long history of the struggle he represents – and which General Tubman illustrated. I am grateful to my peers for this recognition and proud to share their business as chroniclers of this ongoing struggle, âsaid Dr. Brown.
Dr. Michelle D. Commander, Associate Director and Curator of the Lapidus Center, congratulated this year’s recipient, âDr. Vincent Brown’s Dr. Tacky’s revolt is a wonder. This book truly expands on the way readers understand and scholars write and teach the contours of bondage resistance across the Atlantic world. A revolutionary review, Tacky’s revolt is written and sourced with unmistakable skill, clarity of thought and a formidable heart.
Dr. Vincent Brown is Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
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The 2021 Harriet Tubman Prize will be presented to Dr. Brown in early 2022. Details are to come.
The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery
The Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery, founded in 2014 with a generous donation of $ 2.5 million from Ruth and Sid Lapidus, generates and disseminates scientific knowledge and work on the slave trade, l slavery and the fight against slavery in the Atlantic world. The Center supports the work of researchers with long and short term grants.
Given the central role of Atlantic slavery in shaping the modern world, the Lapidus Fellowships ensure that slavery studies are the cornerstone of the Schomburg Center’s larger research community.
The Center engages the public with a variety of programs, an annual non-fiction book award, exhibitions, conferences and partnerships with local, national and international institutions.
Dr. Commander is the author of Afro-Atlantic Flight: Speculative Returns and the Black Fantastic, Avidly Reads Passages and editor of Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition. To learn more about the Lapidus Center, please visit lapiduscenter.org.
The Schomburg Center for Black Culture Research
Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s premier cultural institutions dedicated to the preservation, research, interpretation and exhibition of Afro-focused material. -Americans, the African Diaspora, and African experiences.
As a research division of the New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center offers a diverse lineup and collections totaling more than 11 million items that highlight the rich history, arts and culture of Blacks in the world. Learn more at schomburgcenter.org.
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The New York Public Library
For 125 years, the New York Public Library has been one of the world’s leading providers of free education and information to people in New York and beyond. With 92 locations, including research libraries and branches, in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, the library offers free materials, computer access, courses, exhibits, programs and more to everyone, everything. – small to academics, and has seen a record number of attendance and circulation in recent years.
The New York Public Library serves nearly 18 million customers who pass through its doors each year and millions more around the world who use its resources on nypl.org. To provide this wide range of free programs, the New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the library at nypl.org/support.
Photo credit: Dr Vincent Brown by Stephanie Mitchell.