As we remember Black History Month
in February, we always create some kind of flyer, poster, slide, or advertisement. Have you ever wondered just what some of those images are that we use. Let's take a look at some of the images used in the making of our flyer for Black History Month 2017
"I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man." Frederick Douglass.
Slaves picking cotton. I cannot even imagine working in a field of sticky cotton from sun-up to sun-set. There were no breaks, no lunches. The average slave had to fill a bag strapped to their shoulder with 200lbs of cotton. They were bent over daily, whether it was sunny or rainy. If they didn't make their quota, they were whipped. When a slave’s day ends it doesn't, he or she has their own house to tend to.
For more information visit: Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped
and Life on a Southern Plantation, 1854
, or read "A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labor in Jamaica and Virginia,"
by Richard S. Dunn.
There is an image of a stone table used by auctioneers to display a slave from the Green Hill Plantation, located on Long Island, Virginia. The plantation was built by Samuel Pannill, who first bought 600 acres from William and Moses Fuqua in 1797, and added to and developed the plantation until his death in 1864. According to tradition, these original stone features were used in the auction and sale of slaves. The smaller of the two elements was used by the auctioneer while the stone table was used to display the best qualities of the slaves. The authenticity of this story has not been documented. Both auctioneer's stone and table are in good condition, and are presently used by the owners to hold milk buckets, etc. The auctioneer's stand is a solid stone block, approximately 1'-2" x 3'-0" x 10" high. The stone table approximately 3' square and 3' high, and is supported by four rectangular stones set upright into the ground. A bottom stone is shaped as a cross to fit between the posts at each corner. Top stone about 3" thick; bottom stone about 2-1/2" thick. No mortar was used.
Learn more about Greenhill Plantation
or read "Northern Money, Southern Land: the Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Chlotilde R. Martin,"
by Chlotilde R. Martin.
The Rice-Raft image is one of 269 from South Carolina that are part of the Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views at the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections
. The original image was used in a stereoscopic viewer. Stereoscopic viewers make the 2-dimensional images appear 3-dimensional when viewed through the stereoscope. But even without the stereoscope this image has always haunted me. Just called Rice-raft, this image was published in 1895 and shows a boatload of rice-straw which was used for fodder, bedding and paper-stock. Standing on top of this rice-straw is a large group of African-American people. What was going through their minds? Were they irritated with the cameraman, dreading the work that was to come or enjoying the breeze which was ruffling their skirts? Were these individuals part of the Gullah Geechee culture which inhabited South Carolina?
Rice was very profitable for the Carolina colonies. There is a debate on how the rice arrived at our shores. Did it come as part of the "Columbian Exchange" or did the slaves bring the rice grains from Africa and supplement their diets with it? However it arrived on our shores, eventually it would take a lot of people to work the rice plantations which developed. Those slaves would do everything from making the fanner baskets, building canals to carry water, to standing in stagnant water all day, bent over, planting rice seedlings.
Learn more about the Gullah Geechee culture
, Low country life
, or this image specifically
, or read Philip Morgan's "African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: the Atlantic World and the Gullah Geechee."