Down to the River Jordan: The World the Enslaved Made Print E-mail

210929132117 slaves virginia(The Truth Seeker September, 2023)

Before the Florida Department of Education issued its curriculum directive this past summer that slavery in the United States produced “personal benefits” for the enslaved in the form of a well-stocked resumé of trades, useful after Emancipation in 1863, the board members might have consulted a seminal document in the literature of the oppressed—Angela Davis’s 1971 essay, “Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves.”

These days we’ve rightly exchanged the conditional designation, “slave,” for enslaved person. Fifty years ago, Davis prophesized this nominative shift; she cataloged how Black women resisted the shackles. Among the first scholars to gather the evidence, she argued that a woman (daughter, mother, wife) was equal to a man in undermining the slaveholder, surreptitiously and openly, at her peril. “If she was burned, hanged, broken on the wheel, her head paraded on poles before her brothers and sisters, she must have also felt the wedge of this counter-insurgence as a fact of her daily existence.”

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