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How Class Shaped Which Enslaved People Became Free

The book cover featuring a photo of Isaac Granger Jefferon, a Virginia tinsmith circa 1847.
Amanda Magnus/WUNC
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The cover of 'Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony 1840-1865.'

The slave narrative was the first form of literature indigenous to the United States. William L. Andrews analyzed more than 60 slave narratives published between 1840 and 1865 for his latest book, “Slavery and Class in the American South: A Generation of Slave Narrative Testimony, 1840–1865” (Oxford University Press/2019).

He uses those narratives to paint a picture of class distinctions that existed within slave communities and argues that status and class were key factors in the process of liberation.

Andrews is the E. Maynard Adams Distinguished Professor in the department of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

He joins host Frank Stasio to discuss the wide range of narratives he analyzed and to explain how social and economic differences shaped the lives of some of the most well-known fugitives, including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs.

Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.