Nearly 4,000 blacks were lynched in the American South between the end of the Civil War and World War II, according to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

The report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, says that the number of victims in the 12 Southern states was more than 20 percent higher than previously reported.

Lynchings were part of a system of racial terror designed to subjugate a people, says the Alabama-based nonprofit's executive director, Bryan Stevenson.

Most Americans know about the Underground Railroad, the route that allowed Southern slaves to escape North. Some slaves found freedom by hiding closer to home, however — in Great Dismal Swamp.

The swamp is a vast wetland in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In George Washington's time, it was a million acres of trees, dark water, bears, bobcats, snakes and stinging insects. British settlers, who first arrived in 1607, believed the swamp was haunted.

By 1620, some of their slaves may have overcome that fear to find freedom there.

Steve McQueen's film "12 Years a Slave" is nominated for nine Academy Awards.

The 86th annual Academy Awards is this Sunday, and one of the films expected to take home the Oscar is Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.”

12 Years a Slave is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration.

Portrait of Colleen McElroy
Ingrid Pape-Sheldon

One of the most persistent stories about America — that it was made by immigrants fleeing "the old country" — is also one of the most incomplete. And since stories shape our perception of reality, poet Colleen McElroy is intent on telling another aspect of America's story in "Crossing Oceans."  The poem appears in her most recent collection "Here I Throw Down My Heart" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

A True Story Of A Slave And Master

Mar 25, 2013
Underground Railroad map

Charles Mitchell was a teenage slave of  Washington’s surveyor general, James Tilton. In 1860, with the help of the West’s underground railroad, Charles Mitchell escaped to Victoria, British Columbia, and won his freedom. Public historian Lorraine McConaghy tells Ross Reynolds the story and discusses how she came to write her latest book, "Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master."

By the time Washington became a state in 1889, slavery had been abolished for nearly a quarter century. But there are a few documented cases of slavery in the Washington Territory. One is Charles Mitchell, who was born a slave and brought to the territory in 1853.

How did the 12-year-old escaped slave end up in Washington and why did his slavery cause a fight between Canada and the US? Ross Reynolds talks with storyteller Eva Abram to hear the story.

When Carver Clark Gayton was growing up in Seattle in the 1940s he didn’t hear anything about African-American history in school. But his mother told him stories, including one about his great-grandfather Lewis George Clarke.

Clarke was an escaped slave and an abolitionist. His personal story found its way into the anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" that went on to become the second most popular book in the 19th century. It’s seen as one of the causes of the Civil War.