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“Birthright Citizens:” A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America

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African-Americans living free in Baltimore before the Civil War were constantly testing whether the law and courts saw them as citizens, with rights to be respected. In her new book, Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America, Johns Hopkins Professor Martha Jones argues the free blacks of Baltimore shaped the idea of birthright citizenship that made it into the U.S. constitution and that their struggle still carries meaning for today’s immigrants.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Melissa Gerr is a producer for On the Record. She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks." Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'