A limited number of complimentary copies of "A Question of Freedom" are available at PGCMLS branch libraries (while supplies last). The book is also available for borrowing through the Library and for purchase through Mahogany Books.
Schedule of Book Discussions
- November 2, 2021: Prologue & Chapter 1 ("A Meeting at White Marsh") - Facilitated by Nicholas Brown (COO for Communication and Outreach, PGCMLS) and Kyla Hanington (Public Outreach and Engagement Division Manager, Prince George's County Office of Human Rights)
- December 7, 2021: Chapter 2 ("Ought to Be Free") - Facilitated by Nicholas Brown (COO for Communication and Outreach, PGCMLS) and Kyla Hanington (Public Outreach and Engagement Division Manager, Prince George's County Office of Human Rights)
- January 4, 2022: Chapter 3 ("Charles Mahoney is a Free Man") - Facilitated by Katherine Brodt (Assistant Curator/Museum History, Marietta House Museum, M-NCPPC)
- February 8, 2022: Chapter 4 ("A Public Scandal")
- March 8, 2022: Chapter 5 ("Queen v. Hepburn--A Question of Freedom") - Facilitated by Julia Rose (Historic House Manager, Marietta House Museum, M-NCPPC)
- April 5, 2022: Chapter 6 ("The Turning")
- May 3, 2022: Chapter 7 ("Mob Law")
- June 7, 2022: Chapters 8-9 ("The Sale" and "The Last Freedom Trial")
Prince George's County Reads book discussion events will be held monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 7pm ET through June 2022. The November and December 2021 events will be virtual. 2022 event locations and formats will be announced in December.
About "A Question of Freedom"
For over seventy years and five generations, the enslaved families of Prince George’s County, Maryland, filed hundreds of suits for their freedom against a powerful circle of slaveholders, taking their cause all the way to the Supreme Court. Between 1787 and 1861, these lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of slavery in American law and put slavery on trial in the nation’s capital.
Piecing together evidence once dismissed in court and buried in the archives, William Thomas tells an intricate and intensely human story of the enslaved families (the Butlers, Queens, Mahoneys, and others), their lawyers (among them a young Francis Scott Key), and the slaveholders who fought to defend slavery, beginning with the Jesuit priests who held some of the largest plantations in the nation and founded a college at Georgetown. A Question of Freedom asks us to reckon with the moral problem of slavery and its legacies in the present day.
William G. Thomas III is the John and Catherine Angle Chair in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. He is co-founder and was director of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.
Prince George's County Reads 2022 is part of Freedom Stories
Freedom Stories will discover the histories, stories, names, and places where freedom from enslavement and oppression began in Prince George’s County. Through dialogue facilitated by programs, Freedom Stories will strive to connect legacy to present day Prince George’s families and provide insight into the determination and resilience of Blacks living in Prince George’s County in the 1700’s. We explore history to create a more just and equitable present experience.
Programs produced in partnership between:
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System
Prince George's County Office of Human Rights
Joe’s Movement Emporium
Prince George’s Community College Center for Performing Arts
Prince George’s County Historical Society
“Many Americans see enslaved people in history as a faceless and nameless, victims of a long-ago system that has now disappeared. The nation needs to experience…: a confrontation, a reckoning, with real people, with real histories, with real families whose descendants live among us. Until such encounters happen more widely, Americans will continue to live in separate historical spheres of understanding”. – William G. Thomas III, "A Question of Freedom"
Watch William G. Thomas III's discussion of "A Question of Freedom" with PGCMLS from December 2020