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Michigan State Professor Wins $25,000 Frederick Douglass Book Prize


Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery,
Resistance and Abolition recently announced that it has awarded the
Seventh Annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize to Dr. Laurent Dubois for
his study of the trans-cultural struggle over slavery and citizenship
in the revolutionary French Caribbean.

Dubois, associate professor at Michigan State University, will be
awarded the prize for his book A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and
Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 (University of
North Carolina Press). Focusing on the C island of Guadeloupe, Dubois
explores the slave revolts there that brought about the 1794 abolition
of slavery. His historical account sheds new light on the contradictory
ways this emancipation developed, leading to its ultimate reversal in
the early 19th century. On a broader scale, he examines how
slaves-turned-citizens both experienced and shaped the transformations
of the age.

The $25,000 annual award for the year’s best non-fiction book on
slavery, resistance and/or abolition, is the most generous history
prize in the field, and the most respected and coveted of the major
awards for the study of the Black experience. The prize will be
awarded at a dinner at the Yale Club of New York on February 23, 2006,
as the capstone of Black History Month.

David W. Blight, director of the Gilder Lehrman Center, said: “Dubois
convincingly shows that slaves and free persons of color interpreted
and converted republicanism to their own ends — the claim of
citizenship in the French empire — only to have their freedom crushed
again in re-enslavement.”

Commented John David Smith, the Charles H. Stone Distinguished
Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at
Charlotte and chair of the Frederick Douglass Prize jury: “Not since
C.L.R. James in his The Black Jacobins (1938), has a scholar examined
the broad nexus of revolution, slavery and emancipation as creatively
and as powerfully as Dubois . . . This gracefully written, carefully
argued and well-documented book has important implications that
transcend the time period Dubois examines and the specific events he

This year’s winning book was selected from a field of nearly 70 entries
by a jury of scholars that included Colin Palmer (Princeton University)
and Deborah White (Rutgers University) in addition to Smith.

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