The Least of These: Violence, Freedom, and the Promise of a New World

The Least of These traces the legacy of Black freedom in former slave societies. Using a novel research method, Reuben J. Miller draws on his own family lineage and lived experiences to create and analyze a historical narrative across four major slave economies: the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Cameroon.

Rather than attempt to offer a definitive account of black emancipation or construct a linear history of Black freedom in nations involved in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the study juxtaposes the work of Black collectives and their allies who operated before, during, and after Black emancipation to build societies free from bondage.

This project will draw on archival research, oral histories, and interview accounts of emancipatory processes in the present day. Miller aims to answer how ideas of freedom were defined, how law and public policy incorporate or exclude formerly enslaved Black people and other categories of people drawn into the slave economy, how these decisions shaped institutions of punishment and care, and what lessons can be learned to build a more just and equitable world. The Least of These will result in a series of papers and a book project.