A black man should not know more than obey his master ... do what he is told to do. Even the best black in the world will be ruined by studying. There will be no way to control him. It will completely undermine you to be a slave. It will become unmanageable and of no value. As for himself, it will not do him any good. It will make you unhappy and unhappy. "
The slave Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) would always remember the warning with which his second master, Mr. Auld, reprimanded his wife when he realized that she was teaching that black child the rudiments of the alphabet. "These words penetrated deep into my heart, aroused inner feelings that lay dormant and called for the existence of a completely new way of thinking. I understood what the road from slavery to freedom was. "
'The life of an American slave told by himself ' is a shocking testimony in the first person about one of the most shameful episodes in history. A memoir that should be studied in schools, only not in the United States but globally. That is an autobiography that constitutes a true example of spiritual improvement and elevation.
It tells what it is to be born being the son of a slave and a target. Do not know who your father was, how old you are, when is your birthday. Be separated from your mother forever by being a baby. Attend the most brutal scenes of cruelty. To have as sole possession a rough linen shirt, sleep on the damp and cold floor. "We did not have a regulated ration.
Our food consisted of boiled cornmeal. It was placed on a large tray or wooden trough and placed on the ground. Then the children were called as if they were pigs, and as pigs came and devoured porridge; some with oyster shells, others with pieces of shingle, and some with bare hands and none with a spoon. The one who ate the fastest was the one who managed to eat the most, the one who was stronger the better place was obtained; and few left the feeder satisfied."
Frederick Douglass learned to read and write on his own, turning the poor white children into teachers, exchanging bread for knowledge, demonstrating unusual insight and ingenuity: "When I met a boy that I knew he knew how to write, he told him that I knew how to write as well as he did. The following words were: "I do not believe you show me." Then I made the few letters that I had had the luck to learn and told him to get over it if he could. I got a good number of writing classes in this way. My writing book was the wooden fence, the brick wall, and the sidewalk; my ink and my pen, a piece of chalk. "
The young Douglass fled north. He became one of the key figures of the abolitionist movement. 'The life of an American slave told by himself ' became a best seller of his time. He gave innumerable lectures. He founded newspapers and maintained an intensely political activity. He supported the cause of the female vote and that of Irish emancipation. Today we can believe that slavery has already been overcome in the 21st-century world. But it is not like that, in African countries it still survives united to the illiteracy.
I close this tribute with a song by Nina Simone and a reflection by Frederick Douglass.
"When the slaves sing most, it is when they feel most unhappy. The songs of the slave reflect the sorrows of his heart, and they relieve him only as they ease the tears to a heart that is afflicted."
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