AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: Who were Free People of Color?
In Response To: Who were Free People of Color? ()
From my historical and genealogical research, it would appear that "persons of color" derived their "freedom" through one of any number of processes and any of these individuals would fall within the definition of FPOC. Although many may have been the offspring of slaveowners and were granted freedom because of the "benevolence" of their father or mother, this was not the only manner by which colored persons attained freedom. Moreover, I have no empirical basis for concluding that only persons who "looked white" or who could pass for white are the defined FPOC. To the contrary, I have read numerous reports where bona fide free colored persons(presumed to be escaped slaves)_ were kidnapped off the roads and byways and put into or returned to slavery by roving bands of ruthless slave patrols. So, I get totally confused when FPOCs are only associated with skin tone. In my own family line, I have been fortunate enough to obtain documents that contain physical descriptions of "free" ancestors and relatives. Nothing in the physical descriptions would lead any reader to conclude that they could pass for white. I have read numerous last wills and testaments written by slave owners in which specifically named slaves were pronounced free on the death of the testator or on the death of the testator's surviving spouse. I have read numerous accounts of slaves who were allowed to work for pay or "credit" to purchase their freedom or that of a loved one. We are all very familiar with former slaves who took their destiny into their own hands and escaped to freedom. Finally, there are innumerable historical accounts of people of color who came to the United States as free persons and were never enslaved and remained free during their lifetimes. The pre-1870 census schedules specifically enumerate "free Blacks".
The lives of FPOC may not have reflected the "freedom" that whites then and now enjoy with all of its attendant privileges. There were Black Codes enacted in most states that were harshly applied to restrict the movement and activities of FPOC, less they "stir up the N....s". And as already mentioned, many faced the ever present danger of being kidnapped into slavery.
If I am including too many groups within my broad definition of FPOC, I stand to be corrected by someone who has done research in this area.
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