Archaeologist-anthropologist Matthew Emerson, a visiting scholar at Amherst, was recently interviewed by the Washington Post about his work tracking down the remains of a 17th-Century farm near Pungoteague, Va., home to Anthony and Mary Johnson, free blacks who were early settlers there.
“In the earliest days, free blacks sometimes lived alongside whites and participated in society, but that changed as the system of slavery hardened toward the end of the 1600s,” the Post wrote.
Emerson found evidence of postholes and a type of well, but any evidence of African culture has proved elusive, he said.
“People have asked, is this African American history you’re doing? No, it isn’t,” said Emerson. “It’s African history. These are people who were born in Africa and brought here.”