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For the thirty years that preceded the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks came together in state and national political conventions to strategize about how they might achieve educational, labor and legal justice at a moment when Black rights were constricting nationally and locally.

The delegates to these meetings included the most well-known, if mostly male, writers, organizers, church leaders, newspaper editors, and entrepreneurs in the canon of early African-American leadership—and many whose names and histories have long been forgotten. Our project seeks to not only learn about the lives of these male delegates, but to account for the crucial work done by the women in the broader social networks that made these conventions possible.

All that is left of this phenomenal effort are the minutes. Even these materials are rare and can only be accessed through out-of-print volumes. endeavors to transform teaching and learning about this historic collective organizing effort—and about the many leaders and places involved in it—bringing them to digital life for a new generation of undergraduate and graduate students and researchers across disciplines, for high school teachers, and for community members interested in the history of church and entrepreneurial engagement.

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