Gender Symp: "Rebecca Couch's Pan-Mississippi Journey"
Fri, October 22, 2010 • 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM • GAR 1.102
"Rebecca Couch's Pan-Mississippi Journey"
Peter Weiss will present a talk titled, "Rebecca Couch's Pan-Mississippi Journey." In April of 1841, Rebecca Couch, a free woman of color from Cincinnati, was snatched from the deck of the steamboat Lexington by white deputies and held as property in payment of her former master's debt.
As the story of Rebecca's life unfolds in a Vicksburg courtroom, we hear of an American odyssey that spans three states of the deep South and one of the booming Northwest, follows waterways from the Gulf of Mexico to the Ohio river, and enters communities from an Alabama plantation to a Mississippi riverside tavern to a notorious Cincinnati slum.
Rebecca's multi-state legal battle over the rights — and indeed, the very existence — of black personhood in the antebellum South illuminates both the power and the vulnerability of notions of black citizenship to a society that associates freedom with whiteness.