Sharla M. Fett, Occidental College
Anna Lacy, University of Delaware
Selena Ronshaye Sanderfer, Western Kentucky University
This panel will explore the Black nation as conceptualized by Colored Conventions delegates and attendees. Southern, Northern, Midwest, and California conventions display different trends, and, at times, the delegates of each region share similar goals. How did individuals’ regional differences influence the solutions they proposed? And how did aiming for a Black nation inform their proposals? Delegates were also prolific writers and newspaper contributors, which means that the Black press is replete with pieces that recount and echo the debates within the conventions. How ideas about the Black nation appeared—or did not appear—in delegates and attendees’ textual production needs deeper investigation. Black women participated in these conventions, and they also published their ideas about emigration and nationhood in the press. They also conceived their role in the Black nation differently from men and understood it to be as—if not more—important. But for both men and women, the Black nation is a space where upward mobility would not obstructed by numerous legal, social, and political impediments. Through exhibits and by using digital tools, the Colored Conventions Project visualizes and maps mobility in the nineteenth century. The project highlights the Colored Conventions delegates and attendees’ economic and political contributions as well as their networks. This panel will share the Colored Conventions Project’s works and articulate the ways African American men and women envisioned a distinct nation, and in doing so enacted upward mobility, as well as domestic and transnational mobility.