Annual Black History Month Celebration: Erica Dunbar

Ona Judge
Event Date(s)
Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall

Running From the Washingtons: Ona Judge and the Quest for Freedom

“Running from the Washingtons …” illuminates the contradictions and flaws of America and its Founding fathers, and highlights the courage of Ona Judge, a young enslaved woman, who literally stole herself from George and Martha Washington. Professor Dunbar will examine the irreconcilable tension between the concept of freedom and the institution of slavery through Ona Judge’s compelling life story.

Erica Armstrong Dunbar is the Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History at Rutgers University. Her first book, A Fragile Freedom: African American Women and Emancipation in the Antebellum City was published by Yale University in 2008. Her second book, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (37 INK/Atria) was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and a winner of the 2018 Frederick Douglass Book Prize. The young readers version of Never Caught (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster) was published in January 2019. In the fall of 2019, Dunbar published She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman (37 INK/Simon & Schuster)an accessible biography of one of the most remarkable social activists of the 19th century. Dunbar’s op-eds have appeared in such outlets as the New York Times, The Nation, TIME, Essence, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, her commentary in media outlets CNN and the LA Times, and her appearances in documentaries including Philadelphia: The Great Experiment, “The Abolitionists” an American Experience production on PBS, and the forthcoming Ken Burns’ documentary on Ben Franklin, place her at the center of America’s public history. 

The 20th-Anniversary Black History Month celebration is co-sponsored by UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College, and UMass Amherst Graduate School, UMass Amherst Academic Departments of History, Afro-American Studies, and Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies.