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Modern Voices
Norrece Jones on kidnapping and class
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Q: What do these kidnapping rings say about the expansion of the cotton South and the spread of the domestic slave trade?
Norrece Jones

A: The issue of kidnapping in the North captures so many crucial aspects about the black experience in this country. What kidnappings revealed is that even in a place of freedom, and even in a place where you had whites who were the most progressive, from a black perspective, that they could be taken.

And kidnappings also reveal a very early example of social hierarchies and social divisions in the black community. Those blacks who were most economically secure, were best protected, at least in regard to the people most susceptible to kidnapping. And the people most susceptible were children. Your most affluent blacks at the time had their children in private schools and under a kind of supervision that would have made it more difficult for kidnappers to take their children.
Norrece T. Jones, Jr.
Associate Professor of History and African American Studies
Virginia Commonwealth University

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