Of course Black History is worthy of the chunks of your life as well as the cracks. But I’m laying claim to the unused parts of dressing, and brushing your teeth and driving and walking.
I am listening to The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. It is Equiano’s autobiography published in 1789, and is one of the first widely read slave narratives. I would like to invite you to listen with me to some significant history during Black History Month. This book or three others. It is all free, both audio and written.
Near the end of chapter two Equiano calls for “nominal Christians” to live up to Jesus’s command: “Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you.” It gives a glimpse into what he experienced.
On a signal given, (as the beat of a drum) the buyers rush at once into the yard where the slaves are confined, and make choice of that parcel they like best. The noise and clamor with which this is attended, and the eagerness visible in the countenances of the buyers, serve not a little to increase the apprehensions of the terrified Africans. . . . In this manner, without scruple, are relations and friends separated, most of them never to see each other again.
I remember in the vessel in which I was brought over, in the men’s apartment, there were several brothers, who, in the sale, were sold in different lots; and it was very moving on this occasion to see and hear their cries at parting.
O, ye nominal Christians! might not an African ask you, learned you this from your God, who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? Is it not enough that we are torn from our country and friends to toil for your luxury and lust of gain? Must every tender feeling be likewise sacrificed to your avarice? Are the dearest friends and relations, now rendered more dear by their separation from their kindred, still to be parted from each other, and thus prevented from cheering the gloom of slavery with the small comfort of being together and mingling their sufferings and sorrows? Why are parents to lose their children, brothers their sisters, or husbands their wives? Surely this is a new refinement in cruelty, which, while it has no advantage to atone for it, thus aggravates distress, and adds fresh horrors even to the wretchedness of slavery. (Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings [New York: Penguin Classics, 1995], 61.)
www.Librivox.org has hundreds of classics free in their amateur-recorded (but adequate) audio library. Besides Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, I have listened with great profit to:
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
W. E. B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folks
Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
And if you prefer to read, and don’t have any money, all these books are free at Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org), and all of them can be downloaded free at Amazon in Kindle editions.
It is amazing how much you can listen to and learn just clicking on your phone while you do mindless things. And they cease to be mindless things.
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