Monument removals, the New York Times’ 1619 Project, the renaming of schools and more have all drawn unprecedented attention to the distortions and silences surrounding the history of race in the United States. This public reckoning has given the work of historians renewed urgency--and made the effort to uncover elements of the long-hidden past newly meaningful today. This talk will describe that work while telling the largely untold story of how slavery collapsed in a refugee crisis during the American Civil War. The hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who fled slavery and sought refuge behind the lines of the Union army guaranteed the destruction of the institution once and for all. But it is only now, over 150 years later, that their experience is becoming visible and their names and identities known.