Thursday, June 3, 2010
Cotton pickin times
....slaves developed not only a spirit of self-reliance but experienced a measure of autonomy. These skills, when added to other talents for cooking, quilting, weaving, medicine, music, song, dance, and storytelling, instilled in slaves the sense that, as a group, they were not only competent but gifted.
Slaves used their talents to deflect some of the daily assaults of bondage. They saw themselves then as strong, valuable people who were unjustly held against their will rather than as the perpetually dependent children or immoral scoundrels described by so many of their owners. Indeed, they found through their artistry some moments of happiness, particularly by telling tales which portrayed work in humorous terms or when singing satirical songs which lampooned their owners
My old Mistis promise me
Dat when she died, she gwine set me free.
But she lived so long and got so po'
Dat she lef me diggin' wid er garden ho'.
-- plantation song recalled by Abram Harris, former slave from near Greenville, South Carolina