Contrary

Slaves

On the subject of the treatment of American slaves, your readers may be interested to know that during the Depression someone had the idea of sending people to the South to interview the last remaining blacks who had been slaves–all then in their 80s and 90s. Someone named George P. Rawick has compiled these narratives into a 19-volume collection called The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, which is published by Greenwood Press.

Several books have been based on these interviews, and a few years ago I read one called Before Freedom: 48 Oral Histories of Former North and South Carolina Slaves. It was edited by Belinda Hurmence, and published by Mentor (Penguin) in 1990. I recall that of these 48 interviews only two could be called hostile to former masters, slavery, or whites. Some were more or less neutral, but certainly the largest number expressed a positive attitude toward former owners and to slavery. Here are some excerpts…

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September 28, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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