Black Homesteaders of the South

Bernice Alexander Bennett

The Homestead Act of 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation, and subsequent Reconstruction amendments didn’t just abolish slavery—they gave African Americans a chance to earn a living and own up to 160 acres of public land. Even though their names were never mentioned alongside the other rugged heroes of frontier lore, a startling number of homesteaders were Black men and women in the South, toiling on familiar land but now in unfamiliar fashion—as owners. For many of these Black pioneers, this meant risking their lives to achieve this American promise of freedom.

Author Bernice Alexander Bennett sets out to change the narrative about the largely unknown Black homesteaders in the South by providing 49 stories submitted by descendants of Black Homesteaders from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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