Birthright Citizens

Birthright Citizens

On Thursday, April 15, 2021, Dr. Martha S. Jones will join LancasterHistory virtually to tell the fascinating story of how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans.

Image of Martha Jones, Ph.D.

Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Martha S. Jones’ recent book Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights.

With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones will show how the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, fulfilling the long-held aspirations of African Americans.

Martha S. Jones, Ph.D. is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, and Co-President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She is the author of Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018) and All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture (2007), and an editor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (2015.)


This event will take place online via Zoom on April 15, 2021 at 7pm Eastern. This is NOT an in-person event.

The program is free and open to the public but requires advance registration. Register online by clicking “Get Tickets” below or by calling (717) 392-4633. Your link to the Zoom event will be emailed to you upon successful registration. If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, we highly recommend reading our Virtual Event Guide & FAQ in advance the of the event.

Want all the lectures? Add each to your cart online before checking out! You will receive an individual email receipt for each lecture with its unique weblink so that you can join the lecture on its specific day. Be sure to save those emails! (Need some more help? Watch our step-by-step video tutorial.)

Copies of Birthright Citizens are available for purchase online at LancasterHistory’s Museum Store. Use promo code 21RHC to receive 20% off this book. (Code valid until 5/12/2021.)

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Online/Virtual Event Lecture

April 15, 2021 Online via Zoom 7pm Eastern FREE | Registration Required