The Regulator welcomes Martha Jones, author of Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America, in conversation with Duke professor Deondra Rose (Citizens by Degree), for a reading and book signing. Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans.
Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, fulfilling the long-held aspirations of African Americans.
Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University. She was formerly a Presidential Bicentennial Professor at the University of Michigan and was a founding director of the Michigan Law School Program in Race, Law & History. She is the author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830– 1900 and coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women.
Deondra Rose is an Assistant Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy with a secondary appointment in the Department of Political Science. Her research focuses on the feedback effects of landmark social policies on the American political landscape. In addition to U.S. public/social policy, Rose's research and teaching interests include higher education policy, American political development (APD), political behavior, identity politics (e.g., gender, race, and socioeconomic status), and inequality. She is the author of Citizens by Degree: Higher Education Policy and the Changing Gender Dynamics of American Citizenship.