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For Historian, the Value of the Enslaved Encompassed More Than Price

Library of Congress and Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin
Cover art for "The Price for Their Pound of Flesh" by Daina Ramey Berry

Documents tell us how much people were sold for during our country's history of slavery. But a new book goes further, looking at how people who were enslaved were valued throughout their entire lives.

UT history professor Daina Ramey Berry, author of The Price for Their Pound of Flesh, argues that value encompasses more than price and varied throughout the life stages of people who were enslaved.

Berry said she believes “soul value” – the deeply personal inherent value people put on themselves – is how the enslaved survived.

“There’s no way that groups of people – 4 million – could have made it through slavery in 1865 when they were freed if there wasn’t something else there that they held on to survive.”

Hear an extended version of Berry's interview with KUT below.

Jennifer Stayton is the local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" on KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @jenstayton.
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