A history of sanctuary cities: How Black Americans protected fugitive slaves

By | February 13, 2017

Over the past few days, the national climate has grown increasingly tense over the issue of “sanctuary” cities and states. Local communities, including some college and university campuses, have pledged to shield undocumented children and adults from President Donald Trump’s proposals for deportation. Municipalities and campuses remain steadfast even in the face of the president’s threats to withhold federal funding from these communities.

This opposition between federal authorities and local communities is hardly new. As a scholar of slavery and emancipation, I have studied the long history of African-American communities and how they offered sanctuary or protection to the most vulnerable among them.

In particular, I have looked at how in the 19th century, before the abolition of slavery in the United States, free black people openly defied the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 that sanctioned slavery over the human rights of enslaved people. (Salon Magazine)

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