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On literacy as freedom

Summary

Albert J. Raboteau recounts the story of a group of former slave children.

Summary

Albert J. Raboteau recounts the story of a group of former slave children.

Transcript

Literacy was extremely important to the slaves, in part because it was forbidden and in part because they realised it was the key to opening them to the Bible, and a different interpretation of the Bible than that was coming from the masters. There’s one very poignant incident – if I may, I would like to recount – where a Northern woman who had gone South in the wake of the Union armies when some of the Southern plantations were freed, slaves were freed. And there had been a death on this particular plantation, and she went to the funeral and she noticed some of her students – young former slave children, now freed – were there with their spelling books and they were chanting, singing the ABCs. And she said she realised that for them, learning was a sacred act. It was an act by which they proved that they were now free.