This Challenge Dares Us To Do One Powerful Act That Could Change Our Lives

This viral challenge is asking us to do something our ancestors had their limbs cut off for doing. What could possibly be worth risking your right hand?

This Challenge Dares Us To Do One Powerful Act That Could Change Our Lives
Via Wikimedia Commons

The Free Black Women’s Library is challenging us to read 25 Black authored books this year! This challenge ties into the very real history in how reading emancipated our people.

After Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831, most slave states passed laws forbidding anyone from teaching enslaved Africans to read or write. Fines for breaking these laws were extreme and enslaved Africans caught reading were brutally punished. Some even got limbs chopped off!

But for many, like Frederick Douglass, reading was the key to freedom.

All enslaved persons were required to carry signed passes from enslavers whenever leaving their plantation. Literate enslaved Africans began forging travel passes for themselves and others as a means of escape.

But this wasn’t the only knowledge gained from reading.

Those enslaved wanting to learn how to read were forced to get creative. They would eavesdrop on the lessons of their enslavers’ children, teach one another in secret, and read whatever materials they could find.

Many enslavers had copies of the bible and soon this became more than a literacy tool. For it was in these pages the enslaved learned God never intended for slavery and that freedom is our birthright.

We must continue to immerse ourselves in Black narratives and remember that for many of our ancestors liberation began by opening a book.

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