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Browse a collection of first-hand narratives of slaves and former slaves at theNationalHumanities Center ()to learn moreabout the experience of slavery.Slave parents had to show their children the best way to survive under slavery. This meant teachingthem to be discreet, submissive, and guarded around whites. Parents also taught their children throughthe stories they told. Popular stories among slaves included tales of tricksters, sly slaves, or animals likeBrer Rabbit, who outwitted their antagonists (Figure 12.7). Such stories provided comfort in humor andconveyed the slaves° sense of the wrongs of slavery. Slaves° work songs commented on the harshness oftheir life and often had double meanings±a literal meaning that whites would not find offensive and adeeper meaning for slaves.Click and ExploreChapter 12 Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800—1860339
Figure 12.7Brer Rabbit, depicted here in an illustration fromUncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation(1881) by Joel Chandler Harris, was a trickster who outwitted his opponents.African beliefs, including ideas about the spiritual world and the importance of African healers, survivedin the South as well. Whites who became aware of non-Christian rituals among slaves labeled suchpractices as witchcraft. Among Africans, however, the rituals and use of various plants by respected slavehealers created connections between the African past and the American South while also providing a senseof community and identity for slaves. Other African customs, including traditional naming patterns, themaking of baskets, and the cultivation of certain native African plants that had been brought to the NewWorld, also endured.340Chapter 12 Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800—1860This content is available for free at https://FQ[±RUJ/content/col11740/1.3
AMERICANAAfrican Americans and Christian SpiritualsMany slaves embraced Christianity. Their masters emphasized a scriptural message of obedience towhites and a better day awaiting slaves in heaven, but slaves focused on the uplifting message of beingfreed from bondage.The styles of worship in the Methodist and Baptist churches, which emphasized emotional responses toscripture, attracted slaves to those traditions and inspired some to become preachers. Spiritual songsthat referenced the Exodus (the biblical account of the Hebrews° escape from slavery in Egypt), suchas ²Roll, Jordan, Roll,³ allowed slaves to freely express messages of hope, struggle, and overcomingadversity (Figure 12.8).Figure 12.8This version of ²Roll, Jordan, Roll³ was included inSlave Songs of the United States, thefirst published collection of African American music, which appeared in 1867.