Cover for HOLDEN: Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner's Community. Click for larger image

Surviving Southampton

African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner's Community

The local community around the Nat Turner rebellion

The 1831 Southampton Rebellion led by Nat Turner involved an entire community. Vanessa M. Holden rediscovers the women and children, free and enslaved, who lived in Southampton County before, during, and after the revolt. Mapping the region's multilayered human geography, Holden draws a fuller picture of the inhabitants, revealing not only their interactions with physical locations but also their social relationships in space and time. Her analysis recasts the Southampton Rebellion as one event that reveals the continuum of practices that sustained resistance and survival among local Black people. Holden follows how African Americans continued those practices through the rebellion’s immediate aftermath and into the future, showing how Black women and communities raised children who remembered and heeded the lessons absorbed during the calamitous events of 1831.

A bold challenge to traditional accounts, Surviving Southampton sheds new light on the places and people surrounding America's most famous rebellion against slavery.

"Vivid, engaging, and illuminating. The author’s focus on the role of women, children, and community involvement offers a richer understanding of the events surrounding the Southampton Rebellion."--Cheryl LaRoche, author of Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance

"Very few scholarly texts force readers to completely reimagine iconic events. In Surviving Southampton, Vanessa Holden introduces her readers to an understudied cast of characters involved in the most infamous slave rebellion of the nineteenth century--refashioning a well-known segment of history. Through court records and oral histories, Holden centers women and children as participants, combatants, and survivors who resisted slavery’s yoke in the years before, during, and following the Southampton Rebellion. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the study of enslaved resistance."--Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Rutgers University


Vanessa M. Holden is an assistant professor of history at the University of Kentucky.

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