Carnegie Mellon University

“Soul Values & American Slavery”

Friday, February 8, 2019
Dr. Daina Ramey BerryOliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

This lecture is free and open to public.

4:00-5:00pm Reception
5:00-6:30pm Lecture and Discussion

Simmons Auditorium A, Tepper Quadrangle, CMU campus

In collaboration with the Department of Civil and Envieronmental Engineering, and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion.


From the moment of birth and before, those invested in buying and selling human beings put a price tag on enslaved people. This fiscal marker served as a projection of future worth as well as a monetary value of a market price.  Regardless of what the figure meant, enslaved people created their own system of valuation that neither the auctioneer nor enslaver could control. Exploring enslaved people’s inner spirits expressed in plantation records, newspapers, testimonies, and letters, brings us to an entirely different system of values which are the focus of this presentation.


Daina Ramey Berry is the Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her BA, MA and PhD at UCLA. She is the award-winning author and editor of five books and several scholarly articles. Her book, The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to the Grave, in the Building of a Nation (Beacon, 2017) has been awarded three book awards including the 2018 Hamilton Book Prize from the University Coop for the best book among UT Austin faculty; the 2018 Best Book from the Society for the History of the Early American Republic (SHEAR); and the Phyllis Wheatley Award from the Sons and Daughters of the US Middle Passage. Dr. Berry has appeared on several syndicated radio and television shows and in 2016, she served at a historical consultant and technical advisor for the remake of ROOTS (HISTORY/ A+E). Professor Berry is currently finishing a co-authored book, A Black Women's History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2020), creating a resource on slavery for K-12 educators, and working with EnLight Productions on a digital media platform called Making History Hers.