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‘American History, Black Life, And The Resilience of Memory:’ The Atlantic’s &#821

American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s.
American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818 - 1895) edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s.

In May 1864, an abolitionist named Charlotte Forten wrote a column in The Atlantic about her time teaching Black children liberated by the Union army in the civil war. She was the first Black woman to be published by the magazine. Her recorded words are an example of a kind of history that’s far too rare.

Black history is fleeting. Oftentimes, it went purposely unrecorded by white gatekeepers. Now, The Atlantic wants to change that. The magazine often made space for figures in Black history like Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. And now, it’s doing more.

The “Inheritance” issue of the magazine will feature articles that aim to fill in some of the gaps in Black history, but the project will extend for multiple years.

We talk with the writers and editors behind the project about the ways in which they’re reexamining and recording Black history.

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