American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Free Blacks in the South: The Life of Thomas Day

Published January 7, 2011

Peter H. Wood, Duke University Professor Emeritus
“Thomas Day: Nineteenth-Century Free Black Cabinetmaker”
The Graduate Center, CUNY
November 8, 2010

How might a southern-born free black also be an abolitionist? ASHP staff member, Donna Thompson Ray, interviews historian Peter H. Wood about the life of cabinetmaker, Thomas Day, and how his experience as a free black characterized nineteenth-century race relations in the South. Wood provides an assessment of Day’s life as a business owner, family man, community member, and agent of social justice. Day is projected through both public and private (hidden) personal narratives. Behind the aesthetically appealing walnut pews, pine wardrobes, and mahogany side chairs was a man of deep social conviction operating in tenuous circumstances.

“Thomas Day: Nineteenth-Century Free Black Cabinetmaker” is a Now and Then podcast conversation. The Now and Then podcast series features conversations and interviews with scholars, educators, and ASHP staff members on topics in history.

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