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.
We have a quick favor to ask...
We hope you're enjoying PushBlack Spirit! Spreading the truth about Black spiritual practices and history is just as important to you as it is to us.
And as a small non-profit, we need your support to keep spreading these important stories.
With as little as $5 a month, you will support our tech and writing costs, so we can reach even more people like you. It only takes a minue, so will you please donate now?