Rooted in the Earth
Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage
Crossing the ocean on a slave ship, working the land under threat of violence, eluding racists in nighttime chases through moonless fields and woodlands, stumbling across a murder victim hanging from a tree—these are images associated with the African American experience of nature. Over the decades, many African Americans have come to accept that natural areas are dangerous. Unfamiliar with the culture's rich environmental heritage, people overlook the knowledge and skills required at every turn in black history: thriving in natural settings in ancestral African lands, using and discovering farming techniques to survive during slavery and Reconstruction, and navigating escape routes to freedom, all of which required remarkable outdoor talents and a level of expertise far beyond what's needed to hike or camp in a national forest or park.
In Rooted in the Earth, environmental historian Dianne D. Glave overturns the stereotype that a meaningful attachment to nature and the outdoors is contrary to the black experience. In tracing the history of African Americans' relationship with the environment, emphasizing the unique preservation-conservation aspect of black environmentalism, and using her storytelling skills to re-create black naturalists of the past, Glave reclaims the African American heritage of the land. This book is a groundbreaking, important first step toward getting back into nature, not only for personal growth but for the future of the planet.
Praise For Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage…
"Draws on personal perspectives and oral and recorded histories to detail the ways that the history of Africans in America is rooted in the earth." —Booklist
"I love it! Especially the juicy first-person accounts from enslaved and free black people that convey the depth of the relationship between them and the land . . . [The author] has done our country and the world an incredible service." —Audrey Peterman, coauthor, with Frank Peterman, Legacy on the Land: A Black Couple Discovers Our National Inheritance and Tells Why Every American Should Care
"In reclaiming the black heritage of the American landscape, Rooted in the Earth takes us beyond the hurt and struggle of people and nature and leaves us clean for the continuing journey like bare feet in the soil, fresh fruit, and sassafras leaf stems chewed like gum as a kid." —Jarid Manos, author, Ghetto Plainsman; founder/CEO, Great Plains Restoration Council
"This book is a compelling look at American history and its impact on African Americans and their relationship to the natural world. As part of the up and coming majority it is their influence and political power that will determine the sustainability of America’s environmental protection policies, which influence an entire planet." —Dudley Edmondson, author, Black & Brown Faces in America's Wild Places
"For those who have felt that Blacks are unduly disconnected from the land, this book is both a roadmap and a welcome home sign." —Majora, urban revitalization strategist and host, Eco-Heroes and The Promised Land
Lawrence Hill Books, 9781556527661, 208pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
About the Author
Dianne D. Glave teaches in the department of history at Morehouse College. She is the coeditor of To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History.