‘Envisioning Emancipation,’ Co-authored by UMass Amherst Historian Barbara Krauthamer, Wins NAACP Image Award

Barbara Krauthamer

AMHERST, Mass. – Barbara Krauthamer, associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and photographic historian Deborah Willis of New York University have won the 45th Annual NAACP Image Award in non-fiction for their book “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery.”

The awards, presented in 35 categories in literature, motion pictures, recording, documentary, writing and directing, were televised live Feb. 22 from Pasadena, Calif.  The awards celebrate the achievements of people of color in the arts and the promotion of social justice through creative endeavors.

Krauthamer and Willis amassed 150 photographs – some never before published—from the antebellum days of the 1850s through the New Deal era of the 1930s. “Envisioning Emancipation” illustrates what freedom looked like for black Americans in the Civil War era. From photos of the enslaved on plantations and African-American soldiers and camp workers in the Union Army to Juneteenth celebrations, slave reunions, and portraits of black families and workers in the American South, the images challenge perceptions of slavery – showing not only what the subjects emphasized about themselves but also the ways Americans of all colors and genders opposed slavery and marked its end.

Also nominated in the non-fiction category were “The African Americans: Many Rivers To Cross” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Donald Yacovone; “Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations: 5,000 Years of Literature, Lyrics, Poems, Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs from Voices Around the World” by Retha Powers; “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope, and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones” by Hill Harper, and “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society” by Carl Hart.

Krauthamer is the author of “Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South” as well as many articles and essays on the history of slavery and emancipation. Willis is University Professor and chair of the department of photography and imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.