The Trials of Biddy Mason: Slavery, Mormonism, and the Making of Black Los Angeles
7:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
Sally Gordon (University of Pennsylvania) and Kevin Waite (Durham University) explore the role of the Mormon Church and the spread of slavery across the continent in the mid-19th century through the life of Bridget "Biddy" Mason. Born into slavery in Georgia, Mason was forcibly transported to Mississippi, then to Utah, and finally to the Mormon colony of San Bernardino in 1851. Five years later in a Los Angeles courtroom, Mason won freedom for herself and thirteen others, defeating the largest slaveholder in the West. She became one of the first prominent citizens and landowners in Los Angeles in 1850-60, laying the foundation for the city's first black community.