In his autobiography Twelve Years as a Slave, Solomon Northup, who was kidnapped and sold to slave masters, describes the brutality of slavery. In 1808, Northup was born free in Minerva, New York. His parents were farmers and he followed in his father’s footstep to become a farmer himself. He was living in Saratoga Springs, with his wife and three children until March 1841. Traveling to Washington, D.C., with two men who claimed they were hiring him to be part of musical performance, Northup was kidnapped, sold to slave masters, and ended up on plantations. There he witnessed and wrote about the hard physical labor of slavery. He observed that the women worked as hard as the enslaved men. Imagine an African American woman working on the plantation like a man, eating a bit of corn and bacon, whipped every day like a donkey, sleeping in “crude, crowded cabins on planks of wood.” Northup was also forced to whip other slaves (Hine, Hine, and Harrold 143). The African American slave’s life was full of brutality and sorrow. An essential way to build community in the face of the brutality of slavery was slave music. According to Arthur C. Jones, psychologist and founder of the Spirituals Project at the University of Denver, the spirituals were “a defiant collective voice asserting the power and will to survive among the ...
... middle of paper ...
...edom and they used it to communicate with each other during slavery. In this song I recognized the creativity of the enslaved African Americans.
Douglass, Fredrick. Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass: An American Slave. New York: The modern Library, 2004. Print. 14 Nov. 2011.
Early, Gerald. “Slavery: History in the Key of Jazz.” Jazz, a Film By Ken Burns. PBS, n.d.Web. 14 Nov. 2011.
Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine, and Stanley Harrold.TheAfrican American Odyssey, Vol. 1.4th ed. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print. 14 Nov. 2011.
Jones, Arthur C. “Spirituals As Coded Communication.” Sweet Chariot: The Story of the Spirituals. The Spirituals Project at the University of Denver, Center for Teaching and Learning, 2004.Web. 14 Nov. 2011.
Rouse, Steve. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Manhattan Beach Music.Manhattan Beach Music.Web.14 Nov.2011.
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