We Are Who We Say We Are

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 - 6:00pm
About This Event: We Are Who We Say We Are is a story of race and adjustment, as the Snaer family migrated across the Atlantic world. Their color was a primary factor compelling migration and influencing decisions to maintain or change personal identity. Louis Antoine Snaer was a free man of color during the Civil War, who remained an officer in the Union Army, even after Commanding General Nathaniel Banks ordered the expulsion of all Black officers. Snaer led troops in battle repeatedly, suffered wounds and received honors for his bravery. Snaer did not deny his mixed-race identity, he simply did not announce it and no one in authority challenged him. This book traces his family into the late twentieth century. Some were passing as white and others knew they were “colored” and decided to remain so, even when they could have passed. The Snaers’ experience, like that of other “colored creoles,” began in Europe and passed through Haiti, Cuba, Louisiana, and California. They often acted as Louis Antoine did: “We are who we say we are,” reflecting the possibilities and constraints of racial identity in a multiracial world. About the Speaker: Mary Frances Berry became the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at University of Pennsylvania in 1987, where she is now Emerita. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. She is the author of twelve books including, We Are Who We Say We Are: A Black Family's Search for Home Across the Atlantic World (2014). In addition to her many publications and awards, Dr. Berry was a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1980 to 2004, and from 1993-2004 served as Chair. Between 1977 and 1980, Dr. Berry served as the Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). She has also served as Provost of the University of Maryland and Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder. This virtual lecture is made possible with support from the City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy.

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