Voices Of Freedom : Slavery 's Impact On African American Literature

1204 WordsMar 3, 20175 Pages
Voices of Freedom: Slavery’s impact on African American Literature In the early to mid-nineteenth century, America found itself divided over the issue of slavery. The culture, traditions, and economy of southern states depended heavily on slave labor, while the northern states opposed the institution of slavery. Even though the slave trade was declared illegal in the early nineteenth century, slavery itself was not illegalized until more than a half century later. Abolitionists used powerful anti-slavery writings as a way to fight against slavery. During this time, African American literature emerged with a distinct focus on black culture within the larger American society. These authors and their writings preserved the culture of…show more content…
This uncompromising narrative documents the horrors faced by female slaves, particularly sexual abuse and the heartache felt by slave mothers whose children were taken from them. Often slave narratives were deemed fictional by the white American public. These autobiographies were constantly under scrutiny for their veracity, even though many narratives were published with endorsements from famous abolitionists confirming the story’s authenticity. Some slave narratives were penned by authors referring to themselves as “Himself” or “Herself.” Jacobs was forced to write under the pseudonym Linda Brent to publish her own narrative. Jacob’s autobiography showed how female slaves struggled with sexual harassment and their efforts to protect their identities as women and mothers. With a mounting national debate over slavery, these ever growing narratives provided a unique manuscript documenting glimpses into the inner thoughts of slaves. Another African American writer whose literature was influenced by slavery was Phillis Wheatley. She was kidnapped from Africa at the age of eight and brought to America on a slave ship. John Wheatley, a prominent figure in Boston, purchased the young child and made her a servant for his wife. Wheatley’s owners soon recognized her intelligence and extraordinary literary talent and afforded her an education. Wheatley’s life was an exception

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