Julian Bond’s Great-Grandmother a Slave Mistress? How the New York Times Got it Wrong

When the New York Times termed the late Julian Bond’s great-grandmother, Jane Bond, a “slave mistress,” social media fired back, enumerating all the ways in which this phrase mis-characterized the terms of a sexual exchange between an enslaved woman and her owner. Historian Emily Owens captured the Twitter exchange here. In this essay, I ask how the Times could have gotten this so wrong. It turns out that historians, 19th century usage, and the Times own practice all contributed to the use of a phrase that the paper’s own public editor finally admitted was regrettable. Read more here.

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