In this talk, Richard Bell will discuss his new book, Stolen ( link ), a gripping and true story about five young, free black boys who were kidnapped in the North in 1825 and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home, their courage forever changing the fight against slavery in America.
Dr. Richard Bell is a professor of history at the University of Maryland. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home ( link ). He has won more than a dozen teaching awards, including the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor for teaching faculty in the Maryland state system. He has held major research fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and the Library of Congress and is the recipient of the National Endowment of the Humanities Public Scholar award. He serves as a Trustee of the Maryland Historical Society, as an elected member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.