From: Jennifer Shaub
Time: 8:34:17 AM
Remote Name: 184.108.40.206
Jennifer Shaub Weekly Report 4/12/00
The resourcefulness and spirit of African Americans during slavery contributed to their ability to cope with and win their struggle for freedom. Both enslaved and free African Americans utilized their personal resources, revolted, or ran away in attempt to survive the unimaginable racism. Religion and family were a major source of strength for African Americans. From religion, they drew strength, hope, and feeling of worth. "From the realm of culture and fundamental beliefs, African Americans drew the strength to hold their heads high and look beyond their immediate condition"(Divine 402). The sermons and songs spoke to the enslaved and implied their right to be free. Specifically, African Americans turned to the story of the Israelites in The Bible. The church helped create a sense of community and self-esteem, as it was something of their own. Families also acted as a major source of strength unfortunalty; slave trades or death often broke them up. A tight kinship was found both in large plantations and small farms. Motherless children were quickly adopted in to kinship networks and elderly slaves were often referred to as 'auntie and uncle.' Family and religion acted as key elements of strength and independence for both enslaved and free Africans. Slaves often revolted to protest the oppression they were receiving from the whites. The bloodiest revolt was the Nat Turner insurrection in 1831. However, the most successful revolt was held in Florida between 1835-1841. Hundreds of blacks fought alongside the Seminole Indians for freedom. The Indians allowed the African Americans to accompany them to the trans-Mississippi West. Only a small number of blacks chose to revolt, because of the low success rate, which usually resulted in death. Thousands of slaves chose to show their discontent by running away. Most runaways never got passed their town borders before they were found and returned. For many slaves, escaping was not a real option. Either they lived to far down south or they were reluctant to leave family behind. The most common way slaves showed discontent was by engaging in passive resistance. This often involved slaves working slowly or stealing provisions. African Americans coped with the oppression in many ways. The key elements in their survival were the family and Christianity. Without these, they may have lost hope and the strength to survive.