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The Devil's Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South's Most Notorious Slave Jail

Kristen Green

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Social & cultural history

The riveting true story of an enslaved woman who liberated herself, her children, and a notorious jail for enslaved people in the Confederacy's capital, transforming the property into one of the nation's first HBCUs.

The inspiring true story of an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation's first HBCUs
In The Devil's Half Acre, New York Times bestselling author Kristen Green draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary and little-known story of young Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the "Devil's Half Acre." When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into "God's Half Acre," a school where Black men could fulfil their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America's first Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
A sweeping narrative of a life in the margins of the American slave trade, The Devil's Half Acre brings Mary Lumpkin into the light. This is the story of the resilience of a woman on the path to freedom, her historic contributions, and her enduring legacy.

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