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Hush Harbors: The Secret and Sacred Worship of The Enslaved

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The religious gatherings of enslaved Africans involved both formal worship organized and overseen by slave masters, as well as secret, clandestine meetings held under the cover of darkness. Those enslaved risked being beaten or even killed if caught attending these secret worship assemblies.
Continue reading “Hush Harbors: The Secret and Sacred Worship of The Enslaved”

13 HONEST, Books About Slavery To Share With Your Children (Courtesy of Huffington Post)

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Huffington Post writer Claire Fallon shares recommendations on 13 books for children that discuss slavery with age appropriate candor and honesty.  With Scholastic Publishers recently pulling a children’s book that misrepresented slavery, this list is very timely.  It’s very likely that the issue of slavery is not being fully unpacked at many schools. These books could be a great resource for discussion.

As parents we are our children’s first teachers!  Click here  to view the list of books.

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Cake Mix Controversy: Scholastic Pulls George Washington Book Due To Its Depiction of Slaves

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“A Birthday Cake For George Washington” was released to the public on January 5, 2016. Since it’s release it has received much criticism for its characterization of Washington’s slave cook, Hercules, and his daughter Delia. Scholastic is now saying that the book may give a “false impression” of slave life and is pulling the book from publication.  In a statement, Scholastic said, “While we have great respect for the integrity and scholarship of the author, illustrator and editor, we believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.” Continue reading “Cake Mix Controversy: Scholastic Pulls George Washington Book Due To Its Depiction of Slaves”

“I have come across so many weaklings who profess to be leaders and in the test I have found them but slaves of a nobler class. They perform the will of their masters without question.” -Marcus Garvey

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Marcus Garvey quotes

“I have come across so many weaklings who profess to be leaders and in the test I have found them but slaves of a nobler class.  They perform the will of their masters without question.  -Marcus Garvey

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The History & Origin Of The New Year’s Eve “Watch Night” Service

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In the Christian community, “Watch Night” refers to worship services held on New Year’s Eve. Watch Night services have been celebrated since the 1700’s. Watch Night took on a special meaning, when on December 31, 1862, also known as, “Freedom’s Eve”, slaves were eagerly awaiting the Emancipation Proclamation which would go into effect on January 1, 1863. Continue reading “The History & Origin Of The New Year’s Eve “Watch Night” Service”

Are You Free?

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slave quote

Continue reading “Are You Free?”

The Colored Female’s Free Produce Society

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time for action


The Colored Female’s Free Produce Society was formed in January 1831 at Philadelphia’s “Mother” Bethel AME Church. The organization was part of the “free produce movement” which encouraged boycotts against the purchase of items produced by slave labor. The movement was launched as a way to fight slavery and sought to encourage the purchasing “produce” (goods and services) from “free” men and women of color who were paid for their labor. The movement was active in the U.S. starting the 1790’s until the end of slavery in the 1860’s.

The free produce movement originated with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). In 1830 African American men formed the Colored Free Produce Society of Pennsylvania and then in the 1831 the women’s organization of the same name was founded. As a result, here were some black businesses that began to feature “free” products which were not made with slave labor. However, the free produce organization did not gain substantial momentum. The national association disbanded in 1847. However Philadelphia Quakers continued advocating for the free produce movement until 1856.

The Book of Negroes: A Record of Enslaved Blacks Who Fought For The British During the American Revolutionary War In Exchange For Freedom

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book of negroes
Book of Negroes

The Book of Negroes: A Record of Enslaved Blacks Who Fought For The British During the American Revolutionary War In Exchange For Freedom

The Book of Negroes chronicles over 3,000 enslaved African Americans who fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). The liberation of American colonies from British rule was the goal of the war. For the chance at freedom, enslaved blacks took up arms against the American colonies. They knew that American independence and freedom from British rule, would not result in them being freed from slavery.

For their loyalty to the British, more than 3,000 enslaved and free black people were relocated to Nova Scotia, Canada. They would become the first settlement of Black Canadians. The presence of this document reflects the inherent contradiction of the American colonies quest for freedom and independence; the contradiction being that the newly forming America would deny enslaved blacks the same rights that it sought for itself.

The possibility of freedom offered by The British to those who survived the war was a powerful recruitment tool. Ironically blacks who were free were more likely to support the American Patriots rather than the British. Their support was based largely on the promise of land. Nearly 1/3 of the newly re-settled blacks who went to Nova Scotia would resettle again on the continent of African in Sierra Leone.

In 2007, Lawrence Hall published a work of fiction, “The Book of Negroes” based on the quest of enslaved Africans who sought to gain their freedom by fighting for the British.  In February 2015, BET aired a 6 part miniseries based on the book.


Did you miss yesterday’s post? Click here to view a powerful quote from James Baldwin

Oliver Gordon: The Man Behind The Image

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Oliver Gordon
Oliver Gordon

Many have seen this picture of a male slave exposing the horrific scarring on his back. To many the image is a disturbing reminder of the brutal and inhumane treatment of blacks during slavery.  However, few people know the name of the man pictured in the image.    Oliver Gordon is the man pictured in the image.  Gordon received the scars from being beaten in the fall of 1862. The beating was so severe that it left him with welts across his back. It took him 2 months to recuperate from his injuries. During his recuperation, Gordon decided to attempt an escape.

He ran away in March 1863. After discovering Gordon’s escape, his master began to pursue him. Bloodhounds were used to track him down. Figuring that his master would try to recapture him, Gordon rubbed onions on his body to throw off the dogs scent. Gordon made it successfully to a Union Army camp in Baton Rouge 10 days on the run. His journey was approximately 80 miles.

The scarring on his back was discovered and photographed when Union Army medical personnel examined him when he enlisted in the Union Army after his escape.  He was asked to have his back photographed to highlight the cruel treatment of slavery.  The photo was mass produced and widely sold and distributed.  Little is known about his life after enlistment in the Union Army.

With the image being widely sold and distributed, it would be interesting to know if Gordon was ever compensated for the use of his image?

Did you miss yesterday’s post? Click here to view!

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