© everlark

"Every year white people add 100 years to how long ago slavery was. I’ve heard educated white people say, ‘slavery was 400 years ago.’ No it very wasn’t. It was 140 years ago…that’s two 70-year-old ladies living and dying back to back. That’s how recently you could buy a guy."

 
-

Louis C.K. (via 30thcenturyboy)

Sylvester Magee, the (probable) last American born into slavery died in 1971.

The last living child of former American slaves, Mississippi Winn, died in 2010.

Slavery in the territory that is now the United States lasted more than 330 years. We will be 330 years removed from slavery in the year 2195.

(via fishingboatproceeds)

I don’t even agree. Chattel slavery will be done for that long by that time. The U.S. has maintained many forms of slavery since then and it has never been fully abolished via 13th amendment allowing for the enslavement of prisoners. We have 25% of the worlds prisoners and most being used for labor are Black and brown. You can still buy a dude if you run private owned prisons and state work camps

(via strugglingtobeheard)

watch Slavery By Another Name. all about how slavery basically transitioned to indentured servitude, then chain gangs and then prisons as they are today. its some awful shit.

(via steppauseturnpausepivotstepstep)

I hope your kid has nightmares from "Beloved" 

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

thesoapboxist:

To Laura Murphy, the mother fighting to allow parents to opt their children out of reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved, due to its graphic content:

I’m glad Beloved gave your son nightmares. 

You’re waging a campaign against Beloved’s “scenes of bestiality, gang rape and an infant’s gruesome murder”, content you believe is too intense for teenagers, after your son Blake reported having night terrors after reading the book. You wrote into theWashington Post todayto defend your efforts. You’re not a crazy book-burner, you say. You just want parents to have choices over whether their children are exposed to graphic content at school. Your son Blake is now a 19-year-old college freshman and he’s still disturbed about reading Beloved.

“It was disgusting and gross,” he says. “It was hard for me to handle. I gave up on it.”

Here’s the problem, Laura and Blake. Beloved is not disgusting and gross—it’s a beautifully-written novel. The content in Beloved is disgusting and gross, because slavery is disgusting and gross. Slavery is horrific, and Blake, I’m glad that having to spend a few hours in a book and imagining the horrors of slavery was such a visceral experience, it gave you nightmares.

That’s exactly why you should be reading this book.

I hope all the little white children of America have nightmares after reading Beloved. I hope they’re sickened when they imagine the treatment of slaves. I hope they’re disgusted when they think about the legacy of slavery in this country, how people are still suffering from it, how they benefit from all the bloodshed. I hope Blake Murphy remembers those nightmares when someone puts a gun in his hand and calls him officer, when someone puts a briefcase in his hand and calls him boss, when someone puts a gavel in his hand and calls him judge. I hope Blake Murphy will always be disturbed byBeloved. He should be.         

The least your child can do, before growing up into his privileged white manhood, is spend a few hours between the covers of a book, imagining himself in the shoes of people struggling to recover from one of the most traumatic, violent, disturbing, and horrific eras of human history.

Because Laura, all the little black children of America have to learn to live with the legacy of slavery and its effects on their lives. We understand that slavery is disgusting and gross, hard for us to handle. But it’s not a book that we can put down and walk away from.

Happy birthday author Toni Morrison (February 18)

usnatarchives:


This photograph shows 88-year-old Mrs. Sally Fickland, a former slave, looking at the Emancipation Proclamation in 1947.
She would have been 3 years old when Lincoln signed the proclamation in 1862. The document was in Philadelphia that day on the first stop on the Freedom Train tour. The Freedom Train carried the Emancipation Proclamation and the Bill of Rights across America. During the 413-day tour, 3.5 million people in 322 cities in 48 states viewed these records
Due to its fragile condition—it was printed on both sides of poor-quality 19th-century paper, unlike the Constitution, which is written on more durable parchment—the Emancipation Proclamation can only be displayed for 30 hours each year. Now you have a chance to see this invaluable document on the 150th anniversary of its signing! We will have extended viewing hours, dramatic readings, music, and family activities, all for free at the National Archives from December 30, 2012, to January 1, 2013. Details here: http://go.usa.gov/gWbA

Image: Record Group 64, National Archives.

usnatarchives:

This photograph shows 88-year-old Mrs. Sally Fickland, a former slave, looking at the Emancipation Proclamation in 1947.

She would have been 3 years old when Lincoln signed the proclamation in 1862.

The document was in Philadelphia that day on the first stop on the Freedom Train tour. The Freedom Train carried the Emancipation Proclamation and the Bill of Rights across America. During the 413-day tour, 3.5 million people in 322 cities in 48 states viewed these records

Due to its fragile condition—it was printed on both sides of poor-quality 19th-century paper, unlike the Constitution, which is written on more durable parchment—the Emancipation Proclamation can only be displayed for 30 hours each year.

Now you have a chance to see this invaluable document on the 150th anniversary of its signing! We will have extended viewing hours, dramatic readings, music, and family activities, all for free at the National Archives from December 30, 2012, to January 1, 2013. Details here: http://go.usa.gov/gWbA
Image: Record Group 64, National Archives.
versatilequeen:

I came across this letter, which was sent from here in Dayton. (A relevant piece of history, though all we ever hear about here is the Wright Brothers.) It has a twist that totally invalidates any claims that slaves truly loved their masters. Excellent and articulate and bold - worth reading to the end.


In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdon — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated).Head over to Kottke for a brief but lovely little update about the later years of Jourdon and family.(Source: The Freedmen’s Book; Image: A group of escaped slaves in Virginia in 1862, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, TennesseeSir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.From your old servant,Jourdon Anderson.

versatilequeen:

I came across this letter, which was sent from here in Dayton. (A relevant piece of history, though all we ever hear about here is the Wright Brothers.) It has a twist that totally invalidates any claims that slaves truly loved their masters. Excellent and articulate and bold - worth reading to the end.

In August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, and requested that he come back to work on his farm. Jourdon — who, since being emancipated, had moved to Ohio, found paid work, and was now supporting his family — responded spectacularly by way of the letter seen below (a letter which, according to newspapers at the time, he dictated).
Head over to Kottke for a brief but lovely little update about the later years of Jourdon and family.
(Source: The Freedmen’s Book; Image: A group of escaped slaves in Virginia in 1862, courtesy of the Library of Congress.)


Dayton, Ohio, 

August 7, 1865

To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.

I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here. I get twenty-five dollars a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy,—the folks call her Mrs. Anderson,—and the children—Milly, Jane, and Grundy—go to school and are learning well. The teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday school, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated. Sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks; but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Colonel Anderson. Many darkeys would have been proud, as I used to be, to call you master. Now if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.

As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. Add to this the interest for the time our wages have been kept back, and deduct what you paid for our clothing, and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams’s Express, in care of V. Winters, Esq., Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past, we can have little faith in your promises in the future. We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night; but in Tennessee there was never any pay-day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.

In answering this letter, please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up, and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve—and die, if it come to that—than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood. The great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,

Jourdon Anderson.

tw for slavery, rape 

notesonascandal:

newwavefeminism:

Michelle Obama’s White Ancestors Revealed

Big surprise, Michelle Obama gets her DNA tested and finds distant white relatives descendent from the Plantation that owned her family. But of course, the New York Times writes an article about how hard it is for the relatives to deal with the fact that they’re decedent from slave owners. 

The best part is where they try to assume that the relationship HAD to be consensual:

Melvinia was a teenager, perhaps around 15, when she gave birth to her biracial son. Charles was about 20.

Such forbidden liaisons across the racial divide inevitably bring to mind the story of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings.

I love it when slavery is painted to be some kind of southern love story. 

Melvinia was not a privileged house slave like Sally. She was illiterate and no stranger to laboring in the fields. She had more biracial children after the Civil War, giving some of the white Shieldses hope that her relationship with Charles was consensual.

or that she was forced to have sex with the men of the plantation over and over…

The rest of the article just goes into how sad the family is to learn that they used to own slaves and how they *hope* their great grandfather wasn’t a rapist.

Are people REALLY arguing that it’s okay to romanticize the confederacy and the antebellum south?! 

raptorific:

Okay, low-down:

  • The core cause of the civil war was slavery. Every other cause or bullshit justification just leads back to the abolition debate. A lot of southern schools teach otherwise in an attempt to avert the justified shame they’d otherwise feel, but the core cause of the Civil War was slavery, and there is no other cause of that war that’s independent from Slavery.
  • Confederate soldiers who willingly fought for the independence of the confederacy were fighting to preserve slavery, no matter how you slice it.
  • Wearing or flying the confederate flag with pride is taking pride in a culture built on slavery, no matter what bullshit rationalization about “states’ rights” they give you. The “states’ right” the confederacy was fighting for was slavery. One time someone told me that they were fighting for their “right to secede.” I pointed out to him that they were only seceding to preserve slavery, and promptly smacked him upside his head.

chief3337:

She ( Nanny) put herself on a boat to the New World to come free her people. She was the leader of her tribe. She was an African queen who put herself into captivity to come to the West in order to be with her people so that she could free them. She didn’t come as a slave; it was her own plan. — Folk Historian Naakaa Cush via Karla Gottleib

Nanny, Queen of the Maroons, born into the Akan ethnic group in Ghana in the 1680’s ,lived to become one of the greatest freedom fighters of the New World.

Grandy Nanny was a chieftaness, a leader of Jamaica’s Windward Maroons, who successfully waged war with and held off the greatest military power on earth from 1724 to 1739 suffering only one majour defeat in 1734 at Nanny Town when the British, having managed to surprise the Maroons as they slept, fired upon them with portable swivel guns.

Historians acknowledge her as a master military strategist who developed and excelled at guerilla warfare. She perfected the art of camouflage and created a system of long- distance communication using the Abeng, a cow horn with a hole drilled at one end. Sophisticated Maroon communications put British troops at helpless disadvantage in the hills of Jamaica.

In the 1730’s, the war’s period of the most-intense fighting, the Maroons suffered only about 100 casualties while the British losses numbered in the thousands.

Nanny was named a National Hero for Jamaica in 1976.

postmodernismruinedme:

rainbowfairyprincess:

testosterone-saurus-rex:

hamburgerjack:

howtobeterrell:

I need someone to write a story based on black mermaids and their help in saving black captives who attempted suicide by jumping overboard during the slave trade. I need this book written. I need it to have some Yoruba feels to it. I need it. and then I need a film based on it.

Omg, or saved the ones who were tossed overboard
That is a really good idea.

Yes.

YES

postmodernismruinedme:

rainbowfairyprincess:

testosterone-saurus-rex:

hamburgerjack:

howtobeterrell:

I need someone to write a story based on black mermaids and their help in saving black captives who attempted suicide by jumping overboard during the slave trade. I need this book written. I need it to have some Yoruba feels to it. I need it. and then I need a film based on it.

Omg, or saved the ones who were tossed overboard

That is a really good idea.

Yes.

YES

"Despite the fact that the domestic slave trade was a constant presence in antebellum American society and that the lives of millions of men, women, and children were touched by this trade, since Emancipation this essential component of early American life has all but disappeared from public remembrance. In many respects this historical amnesia has been a consequence of the effort to reunite the country after the Civil War, when the abolitionist critiques of the Old South were muted, and white southerners were allowed to define what life had been like under their “peculiar institution,” as they earlier had referred to their slave system. In books and in plays, the Old South was romanticized, and tales of the auction block and slave coffles fell by the wayside. Even today, such treatments continue, as seen by the persistent popularity of the film Gone With the Wind (1939). Despite its dated racial stereotypes, this film is consistently voted one of the nation’s favorites, with its paternalistic planters, contented slaves, and complete absence of any reference to the buying and selling of slaves."

 
- from Carry Me Back: The Domestic Slave Trade in American Life by Steven Deyle (via waschbar)

Okay, you know what, I GET that folks think that the Civil War, the “Lost Cause,” the antebellum old South were all romantic 

tw for slavery and mention of rape and hate crimes

I get it

years and years and years ago and it all seems inevitable and tragic and beautiful and glorious, honor and fate and bravery, beautiful uniforms, honeysuckle, long warm days and women waiting at home, it’s romantic!

And it’s not fucking real.

Okay?  It’s not real.  If you want to idealize the antebellum South you have three options.  One: know that slavery existed but decide it “wasn’t a big deal” and ignore and erase it.  Two: know that slavery existed and actively wish for it to return.  Three: know that slavery existed and that it was psychological torture, physical torture, rape, lynching, scars on backs, murder, enforced ignorance, bloodhounds, infant mortality, lifespans of 40 years if you’re lucky, never seeing your family again, working and working and working and none of the work and none of the profit and none of the time and none of the choices for yourself, holding onto your culture as hard as you can but only being able to celebrate it in hiding, holding onto your sense of personhood as hard as you can but see it being denied by everyone around you over and over again— know that slavery existed and realize that oh, yeah, the antebellum South was fucked up.

Option three isn’t as simple or as lovely as imagining a beautiful lost world you can happily long for in a bubble of privilege and racism for the rest of your days, but guess what.  It’s the right option.  It’s the factual option.  It’s the only one that’s compassionate or true.  So get your shit together and choose that one.

That ask has gotten me thinking about a racialized production of Hamlet 

As, in what Hamlet would be like if it were set in the antebellum South with Elsinore as a plantation??  

Because I haven’t seen a production that believably establishes the war with Norway as a legitimate Bigger Issue than the immediate tragedy, though I think that’s the role it was supposed to play: a war to show the audience that what happened at Elsinore only happened at Elsinore, that huge as it seems it was in the grand scheme of things small and hopeless and meaningless (except shhhh nothing is meaningless is really the bottom layer here) etc etc etc.  

Except no one cares about Fortinbras.  BUT if Fortinbras was, say, a stand-in for Grant or Sherman or (be still my sick-of-white-saviors heart) Nat Turner, the audience would care because we’d have a deep and emotional foundation / understanding for that larger conflict.  

Buuuut such a production would also require us to focus on / sympathize with a cast of slaveowners, which would obviously be problematic— though I can see a director doing really amazing things focusing on the literal and figurative silencing of slaves.  They weren’t in the text so they wouldn’t have lines but the would be everywhere and they could have their own stories that are shown through their interactions rather than spoken?  And the play could ultimately be about them?  Which would reinforce that the tragedy itself (in the classical sense; I’m not talking about the tragedy of slavery) would not be the Main Event, so to speak.  

It would be a play about slavery and the petty but hugely damaging issues among the masters, and ultimately (if you have Fortinbras as a Nat Turner stand-in which YES PLEASE PLEASE) about revolution and justice and freedom.

[TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE AND VIOLENCE]
knowledgeequalsblackpower:

Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, in which the main female character, Sethe (played by Oprah Winfrey in the 1998 film adaptation) kills her daughter and attempts to kill her other children so that they won’t have to return to slavery, may seem too horrific to be anything other than the brilliance of an author’s mind. However, the novel is based on the life of Margaret Garner.
Margaret Garner was a slave in Kentucky. The sources suggest that she was mulatto, with her slave master most likely being her father. Garner would be sold to her father’s brother Archibald K. Gaines and work as a domestic servant in the house. Garner took a husband and was pregnant in 1849 (which some scholars argue was a strategic move made by female slaves to ward off sexual assaults from White men). Garner’s first child, Thomas, appears to have been fathered by her husband, who was listed in the Census as a Black man. But, her husband was often hired out to distant masters. Her second son Samuel, was described as a “bright mulatto.” Garner’s third child, Mary, was described as “almost White” and so was her sister, the fourth child, Priscilla. The timing of Garner’s children’s births coincide in a peculiar way with Gaines’ wife’s pregnancies, suggesting that Gaines turned to Garner when his wife was pregnant and was thus unavailable to him. Because her pregnancies were patterned so closely with her masters’ wife’s, Garner became the family’s wet-nurse (person who breast-feeds another’s child). Garner was also reported to have a scar across her cheek. When asked after her arrest about her scar, she said “a White man struck me.”
Obviously, Garner and her husband had plenty of reasons to try to escape from slavery. In 1856, at night, when the Ohio river was frozen over, Garner (pregnant), her husband, Robert, and their 4 children literally walked on water to freedom. Their taste of freedom was very brief.  
Slave catchers, U.S. Marshals, and Gaines would burst into the cabin where the family was hiding out.
Robert emptied the six-shooter he had stolen from Gaines, severely wounding one deputy. In her determined resistance, Garner almost decapitated daughter Mary with a butcher knife, and using the knife as well as a coal shovel, she wounded each of her surviving children. The Garners were subdued and taken into custody, but what was to happen with them? It seemed like a complicated case. Should they be tried under the fugitive slave act and deemed property, or should they be tried for murder? 
The defense attempted to prove that Margaret had been liberated under a former law covering slaves taken into free states for other work. Her attorney proposed that she be charged with murder so that the case would be tried in a free state(understanding that the governor would later pardon her). The prosecuting attorney argued that the federal Fugitive Slave Law took precedence over state murder charges. Over a thousand people turned out each day to watch the proceedings, lining the streets outside the courthouse in Cincinnati. Five hundred men were deputized to maintain order in the town.
Activist Lucy Stone spoke at the trial

“The faded faces of the Negro children tell too plainly to what degradation the female slaves submit. Rather than give her daughter to that life, she killed it. If in her deep maternal love she felt the impulse to send her child back to God, to save it from coming woe, who shall say she had no right not to do so? That desire had its root in the deepest and holiest feelings of our nature—implanted in black and white alike by our common father.”

Garner was not immediately tried for murder, but was forced to return to Kentucky along with Robert and baby Priscilla. When Ohio authorities got an extradition warrant for Garner to try her for murder, they were unable to find her for the arrest. Gaines kept moving her. Eventually, he sent the whole family to work for his brother Benjamin in Arkansas and then they were sold to work as house servants in New Orleans. 
Margaret Garner died in 1858 of typhoid fever. Before she died, she told her husband

“Never marry again in slavery, but live in hope of freedom.”   

(via A Historical Margaret Garner)

[TRIGGER WARNING FOR RAPE AND VIOLENCE]

knowledgeequalsblackpower:

Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, in which the main female character, Sethe (played by Oprah Winfrey in the 1998 film adaptation) kills her daughter and attempts to kill her other children so that they won’t have to return to slavery, may seem too horrific to be anything other than the brilliance of an author’s mind. However, the novel is based on the life of Margaret Garner.

Margaret Garner was a slave in Kentucky. The sources suggest that she was mulatto, with her slave master most likely being her father. Garner would be sold to her father’s brother Archibald K. Gaines and work as a domestic servant in the house. Garner took a husband and was pregnant in 1849 (which some scholars argue was a strategic move made by female slaves to ward off sexual assaults from White men). Garner’s first child, Thomas, appears to have been fathered by her husband, who was listed in the Census as a Black man. But, her husband was often hired out to distant masters. Her second son Samuel, was described as a “bright mulatto.” Garner’s third child, Mary, was described as “almost White” and so was her sister, the fourth child, Priscilla. The timing of Garner’s children’s births coincide in a peculiar way with Gaines’ wife’s pregnancies, suggesting that Gaines turned to Garner when his wife was pregnant and was thus unavailable to him. Because her pregnancies were patterned so closely with her masters’ wife’s, Garner became the family’s wet-nurse (person who breast-feeds another’s child). Garner was also reported to have a scar across her cheek. When asked after her arrest about her scar, she said “a White man struck me.”

Obviously, Garner and her husband had plenty of reasons to try to escape from slavery. In 1856, at night, when the Ohio river was frozen over, Garner (pregnant), her husband, Robert, and their 4 children literally walked on water to freedom. Their taste of freedom was very brief.  

Slave catchers, U.S. Marshals, and Gaines would burst into the cabin where the family was hiding out.

Robert emptied the six-shooter he had stolen from Gaines, severely wounding one deputy. In her determined resistance, Garner almost decapitated daughter Mary with a butcher knife, and using the knife as well as a coal shovel, she wounded each of her surviving children. The Garners were subdued and taken into custody, but what was to happen with them? It seemed like a complicated case. Should they be tried under the fugitive slave act and deemed property, or should they be tried for murder? 

The defense attempted to prove that Margaret had been liberated under a former law covering slaves taken into free states for other work. Her attorney proposed that she be charged with murder so that the case would be tried in a free state(understanding that the governor would later pardon her). The prosecuting attorney argued that the federal Fugitive Slave Law took precedence over state murder charges. Over a thousand people turned out each day to watch the proceedings, lining the streets outside the courthouse in Cincinnati. Five hundred men were deputized to maintain order in the town.

Activist Lucy Stone spoke at the trial

“The faded faces of the Negro children tell too plainly to what degradation the female slaves submit. Rather than give her daughter to that life, she killed it. If in her deep maternal love she felt the impulse to send her child back to God, to save it from coming woe, who shall say she had no right not to do so? That desire had its root in the deepest and holiest feelings of our nature—implanted in black and white alike by our common father.”

Garner was not immediately tried for murder, but was forced to return to Kentucky along with Robert and baby Priscilla. When Ohio authorities got an extradition warrant for Garner to try her for murder, they were unable to find her for the arrest. Gaines kept moving her. Eventually, he sent the whole family to work for his brother Benjamin in Arkansas and then they were sold to work as house servants in New Orleans. 

Margaret Garner died in 1858 of typhoid fever. Before she died, she told her husband

“Never marry again in slavery, but live in hope of freedom.”   

(via A Historical Margaret Garner)

Oh also I finished my paper on folklore and privilege in respects to slavery in the U.S.! 

if you want to read it I put it below the cut

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"Not the least of the ironies of African-American history is that aspects of black speech related to Gullah [the creole language historically spoken between slaves] are now stigmatized by many…as illiterate or associated with field hands, in contrast to the high prestige of ‘proper’ English. In retrospect one should be more impressed with the success of slaves, a people of diverse linguistic backgrounds and limited opportunities, in creating a creole language and culture than appalled at their ‘failure’ to totally adopt the language and culture of their masters."

 
- Charles Joyner in Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community 

"In another [African-American slave folktale]…the trickster [character] does more than simply defeat his rival; he thoroughly humiliates him, takes his woman, and reduces him to servility…[Such] symbolic inversion provides psychic relief from the emotional constraints of slavery, symbolic attacks on oppressive masters and overseers, and, most important of all, a continuing reminder that existing power relationship are not necessarily natural power relationships."

 
- Charles Joyner in Down by the Riverside: A South Carolina Slave Community