Gold Chains
Gold Chains
Aug 12, 2021
California Fugitive Slave Law
Play • 25 min

Three formerly enslaved Black men were living their California Gold Rush dream, building a lucrative mining supply business in just a few months. But one cool spring night in 1852, an armed posse of white men burst into their cabin and arrested them, claiming they were fugitive slaves. In our pilot episode, we explore a little-known California law that unleashed racial terror on Black people and made a mockery of the state constitution’s ban on slavery.

Episode Guests: Stacey L. Smith, an associate professor of history at Oregon State University, and author of Freedom’s Frontier: California and the Struggle over Unfree Labor, Emancipation and Reconstruction. Smith is acting as a historical consultant to the California Department of Justice as it supports the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans.

Taylor Bythewood-Porter, an assistant curator at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Bythewood-Porter co-curated California Bound, Slavery on the New Frontier, 1848-1865.

Candice Francis, communications director at the ACLU of Northern California.

Explore the entire Gold Chains: Hidden History of Slavery in California Project

Production Credits: Produced by the ACLU of Northern California.

Episode created, written and hosted by Tammerlin Drummond

Technical production and music by Dax Brooks, co-written by Alex Doty. 

Thanks to Marshal Arnwine, Candice Francis, Gigi Harney, Brady Hirsch, Carmen King, Abdi Soltani, Eliza Wee and Stephen Wilson. And to our partners on the public education project, Gold Chains: The Hidden History of Slavery in California: KQED the California Historical Society, the Equal Justice Society and Laura Atkins.

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