Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads & MLK Day Event: Professor Roy E Finkenbine: Searching for Jordan Anderson: A Personal Journey Into Race And Slavery In America

This event was held on January 21, 2013 at Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

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Jordan Anderson, an African-American who moved to Ohio when he was freed from slavery in 1864, is famous for his "Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master," addressed in response to a request from his former master that Jordan return to help restore the farm after the Civil War. The letter became an immediate media sensation with reprints in the New York Daily Tribune and other publications and has been described as a rare example of documented "slave humor" of the period - its deadpan style compared to the writing of Mark Twain.

In the famous letter, Anderson asks his former master to prove his goodwill by paying the back wages he and his wife are owed for 52 years combined of slave labor and asks if his daughters will be safe and able to have an education, since Jordan would rather die "than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. He concludes with, "Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me."

Professor Roy E Finkenbine, Chair of History at Detroit Mercy College, is a specialist on slavery, abolition, and the Underground Railroad, and is writing a biography on Anderson and the famous letter. Join us on MLK Day as Dr. Finkenbine discusses his search for information about Anderson's fascinating life and the history of the famous letter. He will also share his personal experiences involving the heritage of race and slavery in America while on this research journey.

Dr. Finkenbine co-edited the five-volume "Black Abolitionist Papers, 1830-1865" and "Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation." He recently completed a second edition of "Sources Of The African American Past" and was appointed to the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission. This event is held in conjunction with Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2013. This year's Reads' theme is 'Understanding Race.'

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