Join author and professor Laura Arnold Leibman as she discusses an important American story told in “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family.” Leibman takes a deep look into the background of Blanche Moses, a member of a prominent American Jewish family that can trace its lineage to the time of the American Revolution. An avid, even obsessive genealogist, Moses nonetheless died in 1949 without learning that her grandmother, Sarah Brandon Moses, had begun her life Christian—and enslaved—in late 18th-century Barbados.
Meticulously tracing the family’s history, Leibman uncovers a largely forgotten population of mixed African and Jewish ancestry—one that constituted as much as 50% of the Jewish communities in Barbados and elsewhere on the Atlantic in the early 1800s. In doing so, Leibman not only sheds new light on the fluidity of race in early America and the role of religion in racial shift, but also shows that the diversity of today’s Jewish community is part of a long tradition.
Laura Arnold Leibman is professor of English and humanities at Reed College. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995. Her work focuses on how material culture changes our understanding of the role of women, children and Jews of color in the early Atlantic world.+ More... - Less...
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