WPA Slave Narratives- Interviews w/ Former Slaves

I did a paper on these narratives.  We talked about the problematics- how these interviews were conducted by outsiders (many of whom were White), and also how these interviews targetted former slaves who were children at Emancipation.  Of course, in 60 years, it is possible that age softened the memories of the harsh reality of slavery.  Additionally, the perceived identity of the interviewers: White interviewers might elicit a subdued or hostile reaction from their African-American interviewees.

Ehh, the list goes on.

I appreciated the Works Progress Administration for it’s efforts to preserve these histories in film, audio and written texts.  The history major in me wishes the Obama Administration would do something comparable with elder Japanese citizens who were interned, or even older Indigenous Americans on Reservations- heck, even Vietnam War vets.

I am the descendant of enslaved Africans.  In fact, I am only the 3rd generation since Emancipation (in my family).   My great grand parents were not even teenagers when they were freed.  It’s funny to think of it in these terms- I am not even that far removed from that “peculiar institution.”

And still I insist that my history does not begin with slavery.  Just as African nations’ history does not begin with the colonialists’ first steps on the continent.  African nations’ history did not begin with the casting out of their European oppressors [and the accompanying post-colonial discourses/rhetoric].  My history- the history of the African diaspora- should not be framed contingently, relative to the “inexorable advance” of “European conquest and imperialism.”

I think I just meandered through about about 400 years of history.  If nothing else, I can use this historical training of mine to travel through time and see the stories that I should have learned years ago.

That is all for now.

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