thumbnail of Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; 
     Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African
    American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4 of 4
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
there are many ways that people have describe slavery but i think the most important way of understanding bondage is how the slaves themselves preceded and from their actions their words their testimony they clearly see this as an institution that by definition as the state of war and i think for us to best appreciate and understand the dynamics of the relationships between masses and slaves is true that perennial conflict a group of people determined to keep an entire population in bondage and that very same population of governance of enslaved people struggling to find their freedom and this was in the state i think the slave master
on the large plantation were very small farm is the same the greatest ambition for that man or that woman is on prof it to enrich themselves on the backs of these laborers are very large plantation the home lifestyle that these wealthy heiress and home most powerful and slavery was quite extravagant and it was a relationship and a position that they would have had very little contact with the majority of slave owning slaves if they would have probably seen or are known over had any communication with it within the domestic staff some skilled laborers and critically the most important slave would have been the driver was ahead man the state has been
white children and white adults non slaveholding whites in an environment where there on the most frequent spur to slaves to labor is the way and so people went missing fly things on hearing screams having the ability to command at the earliest age people who are your age and older it's been weather white chocolate or white adult slave holding a dull or even non slaveholding white the presents are association are being anywhere in the environment of the slaveholding society one that constantly be exposed to a particular kind of violence of seeing people for long arm of witnessing critically which which had a
certain connotations sexually as well when you consider that slaves when they wore works were male or female stripped to the waist fb that permitted white children who are even at that young age slave owners as their parents as white non slave holders in the community there is an exposure inherent in any system of course labor a surge in violence and so that the people in this situation are constantly exposed to fly things of slaves on why we add to that the reality that when slaves were wet male or female they were stripped to the waist what made it attractive and of greater interest to many people in the community and the totality of that is to create a sermon
tendency toward violence people expecting that they can get whatever they want the sense of a pseudonym curious missed develops within that culture as a whole arm but i think to understand this need a system of slavery once got to be very sensitive and aware of the volatiles than even slave children learn at that young age that they can command a black adult black chow any black person to do whatever they desire for that person to do is this but the position white children learned that that even at that early age that they have the power to
command any black person whether a chart their age younger or an adult to follow their commands and being in an environment of their can demand that kind of imperious miscreants in the society as a whole once these children grow up on even the moon or theorist kind of sense of themselves and one they deserve just two years before the civil war on the butler plantation the slave joe and who's married to a woman named psyche tom discovers that he's about to be sold then eighteen fifty nine india was as true then as it was true
a century earlier two centuries that the options that these individuals had once they learned they were going to be separate from their loved ones or very limited on one could make he's big on the butler plantation joe a slave learns that he's about to be sold and separated from his wife psyche his options as countless lives before him were very limited could make an appeal he however is is politically fortunate police and being in a position that he would have access to the ear of the owner on most large plantations the number of slaves who have had that opportunity was very very limited but outside of the two or what was wanted lt to say ass master please don't sell me home
sure that i'm with knowing the character of the pierce butler home he immediately goes to home the ultimate decision that would shape the thinking of the owner and that is the complete loss of the property and any economic resources in profit that would come from and what he did was to threaten to kill himself on in this case iran he succeeded in terms of preventing the master from selling who is the the number of slaves and did the evidence it's it's difficult to establish on it certainly happened in their accounts of it i don't think this was widespread think i'm at the earliest point of slavery
and in the middle passage and for those slaves in the colonial period i think it was more common but slaves did to did make that decision to kind of devastation that people fell and trauma from being torn from loved ones and politically those individuals who perhaps had been sold before re establish another family on and then to find out that they would be sold again on the kind of despair that any kind of a case of constantly being torn from loved ones could push someone to that point it is at the time one of the greatest weapons that slave holders had was
the threat of sale and to prevent that sale there are very few options on the part of the slaves and since people are being sold for their labor in the profitability and what they could bring forth and the money that could be gotten for them on from a slave's prospective accurately the only way to rome deterrent that so hard to block the sale was alone manning's the law hoping to produce a legal crisis for the owner that is if all efforts before have prevented the sail from taking place once sold could pretend to be crazy or what we find in legal documentation not sound on and so there are these cases cutting
four it's both this is wind our own slaves did neil lake themselves on cutting off the hand cutting off a foot cutting off fingers on all recognizing that their sole function and so interest so their owner and a potential owner was their capacity to labor and so they literally cut the essence of what they meant to
their owners and their precious we also know that slaves in one another form of resistance was to kill themselves again highlighting the the core of what they meant to the people who owned them i think in the case of charles ball coming across a runaway slave who has had been bombed beaten so horribly their ball describe them as having a whole different spin on his back arm cool homes to hang himself on other swayze sometimes drowned themselves are the range of names by which they did so very
think of it a major concern for a nice way of was the ability to remain with loved ones with friends on a plantation that there were not children and there's an arm would have almost by definition meant that there would be the division of in the state and so when slave see the children a friendly temple holmes be there one of the most important things to slaves was the ability to keep intact with their loved ones and family members so any slave owned by someone who did not have an heir apparent almost war short of being separated in the state's divisions and so when the slaves offending campbell arm
realize and see her children's there's a certain joy in knowing that the prospect at least of being able to remain intact arm was good it's very revealing as well as a camel happen to be terribly observant and quite sensitive that many other whites and i might even say that most whites when they saw last ways talking in showing an excitement about white slave children their future owners believe that this was simply a statement of all the slaves happiness and contentment with their bondage but on the contrary it was a real revelation something very very different ms brennan right
in connection with his wife betty what is it oh you're okay head men frank captures a reality on a plantation that reveals why drivers who were signed by the owner of the plantation to supervise the other slaves and supervise where the symbol of authority and the most common spur to get slaves to labor the wet why slaves respected generally speaking these drivers is because they knew that
song would be supervising and it would be better to have a black person who despite their supervisory position was still a slave lived among other slaves was no doubt married to a slave who would've had some advantages because of that relationship but would also suffer and in this case he's married to a woman betty who's raped by the overseer and soul the slaves one of at the empathy and understanding that he is a man lee who understands me the most wrenching aspect of all bondage and as the sexual violence against women on it and i think what's what's most revealing here in the case of wove of driver frank
as we see in other documents about the institution of slavery is that had he physically resisted or taken any action against the overseer most likely would have resulted in his death and so slaves men and slave women are always face with this arm choices horrible choice to resists then probably end up dead i am there may have been a satisfaction in that and taking action against this in more altima's brutality but the wild thing in any opportunity that you could have played in protecting our children and helping to raise these children would have been by definition last few
years is that i think that the rape of a black woman was not only pervasive but it was so sanctioned in slaveholding societies that gets ignored in many ways i mean if we look its own on an any plantation and any point of of slavery there would have been a lot of those around we know from the a census survey team sixteen ballot ten percent of the southern pop southern black population was classified as mulatto listeners know that a very conservative estimate so we're talking about four hundred thousand miles the overwhelming
majority of these would have been the victims of love right and dj rate of black women than its prevalence are tragically ignored generally speaking in him most inspiring both during slavery and after the reality of the sexual violence against black woman has generally been ignored or denied yet we know from the eighteenth sixty census that ten percent of the southern black population was classified as mulatto is
four hundred thousand models the overwhelming majority or the victims and products of rape and at the time of slavery and just to give one example of the acceptance of this brutality is the work by a southern one of the leading southern intellectuals in a book published on coal the morals of slavery revealing way in which the author argues third one of the great things are the positive things about slavery was that the virtue of white woman was protected because young slave holders could arm innocently mom have sexual relations are so they're both sort of speak with black one and thereby spare the fragile on and pure so then when
the prevalence of a particular kind of violence that goes through this a sign that irrational an end i'm looking back at what could trigger violence on is mind boggling and charles ball witnesses a whole server as he finds out who's being brutally lash she's tied our lakes and our arms are tied to the ground she stripped to the waist the owner comes beets are brutally that she's bleeding and then he goes into the house and he brings back a candle light the candle in huge dripping on the the wax on the wounds of this woman home and then he proceeds to lasher further
out heinous this particular weapon was inspecting mate ball to check make sure it's not just what exactly had had she done and the money goes up to be the house he talks other slaves he finds out that this house servant was a crook and all she had done was burn the edges of waffles and so that that could not only trigger that kind of almonds but what he also found striking was that as she's being worked he looks at the house and he sees that the planet's borders are looking out and watching this as well so it's no on any issue of the protection of the mortality of the deed the women within the society in their purity all these individuals are being exposed to this kind of violence and not a few slaveholding women are notorious for their ability to use
that the lash of themselves but it never ceases to amaze me the contrast between what slaves recorded about their experience and what their owners recorded com and newspaper articles now polls diaries about the institution of slavery and southern white woman on that this image of this very genteel and sensitive and unpolished individual bomb is a visit as a major contrasts with what slaves talked about that so many of these women slave holders or more beer and they're working but it's not just there insisting upon and ordering the whipping of other slaves but their personal involvement in devising
all kinds of portuguese for the slaves and whipping them themselves and it's striking to me as well that they're often slaves are you that the women were more brutal and they're beating them their husbands and mail mail slave owners if the institution of slavery was a patriarchal institution then slaveholding men were the most and socialist fathers in the history of humankind normally consider the number of more latinos only consider the fact that with complete insensitivity and disregard that they separate the relationships of slave women enslaved men and i think in terms of the enormous slave sale in savannah georgia and
eighteen fifty nine when at one time over four hundred slaves are sold gathered perhaps appropriately if the institution of slavery you was indeed and so many would like to believe of patriarchal institution than the slaveholding men were the most concessions fathers in the history of humankind if we look at a particular sale on that snowden remains known as the whipping time in savannah georgia and eighteen fifty nine we thought was as individuals my army was saying don't even china's service in savannah ga an eighteen fifty nine a sale that
was so horrendous it's still known as the weeping time which captures so graphically the kind of personal re morse and torture psychologically for the people on the plantation in savannah georgia and eighteen fifty nine where over four hundred people are sold once appropriately the sale takes place at a racetrack and this association would simply as with horses human beings are no different then these animals gathered to race for the entertainment of people and the whole setting and the attitude of people looking at these bodies aren't reinforced so graphically and indelibly in the thinking of these anyone who was there any and certainly any of the home all of the slaves patriarchs importantly
love their black families as they love their white families and wanted to protect these families or when you had all of these people being sold without regard to their own familial bonds simply highlights the the travesty behind any of these metaphors all of slavery as a paternalistic institution these bees it's we can learn so much about this week in time from the descriptions of the way a minimum that the women despite the fact that they are bodies being touched their their mouse being
forced to open our being forced to move in various ways to test their effectiveness of their potential as laborers nevertheless descriptions of their dress their headbands that despite all that they were caring themselves with a certain dignity that i think is so very revealing that you may own and you may be able to force yourself only sexually but i'm going to perceiving time myself in such a way that you can never penetrate you can never take away this this certain psychological aspect to me the psyche my spirit my soul i think it's very very revealing that the way slaves described slave traders was to call them
are sold traders and because they were efforts to take and destroy the very souls of these individuals it's b the brutality of of slavery is revealed as well on another level and this week in time sale in savannah that it also reveals how despite that her rent this brutality that we can see i'm hal b women and the men are tearing themselves at this time about their refusal to allow all slave owners to take their dignity they might be allowed to take their body but the inscriptions all how they hold themselves and
the appearance that they maintained despite being forced to move a certain way too open their mouths of these white men coming and touching the bodies in arm looking at these women in such a degrading and insulting way that the descriptions of their turbans and the care which which they've they've dressed that that the ones who have babies and infants on all captured in my thinking that sense both of slave says there's a part of us that your ownership and your sexual violation and anything else that you do to us that you cannot penetrate refuse we simply cannot because well one of the things that this institution attempted to do was to
take the very sense of of individuals as being able to one day be free or having any kind of hope or an addition on and i think that's why they called those who sold flesh and blood soul drivers this is what they were attempting to do not only to move property from place to place but to further to mean and making sense of this nightmare bondage was an enormous challenge and a certain segment of the slow a population found some sense an arm of christianity that day so is their own and cast out the kinds of racist and pro slavery interpretations of christianity that
arm white slave holders tried to promote and if we look at him cooper london if we look at cooper london who represented in his preaching just some of the best aspects of that particular interpretation of christianity because here's someone who was not only a man of god and a man who is willing to risk take enormous risks by teaching other slaves how to read and so that slaves who were christian men are slaves were not were able to identify with hammers here someone who is not only speaking to a spiritually but speaking to us
and providing us with something that we consider home almost as valuable as freedom and by taking the chances that he did not only established his credibility as being someone attached and committed to his fellow slaves but his refusal to tell fanning campbell how he learned how to read further supported his clarity and understanding of how dangerous all white people were however sensitive and kind that the power of their skin and critically their ownership where this room our marriage are not made them potentially it's huge
for any slave to teach another slave hearts and to read first of all to reveal that he or she could read was very dangerous so that there is a dual danger the home penalty that one would have been severe lashing their cases of people having being mutilated once it was discovered that they are more literate it would be added punishment that someone not only have learned how to rebuild was teaching others to do so cooper london's credibility in the respect that he would've gathered from other slaves was not only based on his role as a religious leader catering to their spiritual needs but that he was himself
putting himself an enormous risk by teaching them how to read and also his credibility was there about his understanding of the institution of slavery by his refusal to tell off andy campbell on how he learned how to read and acknowledging because he understood the danger of all white people and i think this is something that a generation after generation of slave and still but these were powerful dangerous people that one she keeps as far away as as possible this is beans a lashing the work was the symbolic or of the institution of slavery and that
was the emblem that slave holders gave head men and drivers can that whether or not an individual slave had been worked here she had to have seen heard of harm and witnessed the consequences of lashings and we know that the backs of individuals on board mutilated forever by the lash to people what to death and so when people think about slavery it's inconceivable how they could ever imagine this being a benevolent the benevolent institution because own it reflects the coercion and in the force involved in making people labor against their will they're
idiots because of the role of the lash and the belief by slave holders that i am whether slaves had done anything quote wrong or not occasionally they just need to be wet that it's this symbolic or to represent the overwhelming power of whites and slave owner's home and then everyone would have had to have seen would have heard it for anything or nothing could be whipped and this lashes charles bolden scribes it so graphically home struck terror and slate own and that people could be what ten lashes to hundreds of lashes it's it's when you read about him you see that an individual on these clashes there could be seven feet in length to get a hundred two
hundred three hundred lashes and even when they would be broken down an x number of lashes to date small home can you imagine what someone's back with locally and keep in mind that they're being stripped to the waist women and men is back too preserve some sense holderness end to create as a group and this sense of of resistance in a sense so despite the odds against any freedom that collectively this encouragement of a variety of acts of resistance but i think among slaves psychologically
home there was a support and encouragement in respect for people to do whatever they could do however they could do and some people were going to take that old smith chance and organize your arm and equally dangerous action to run away where he knew that there were dogs that slave holders had trained that they called nigger dogs and in some cases they appoint capturing a fugitive had the dog bite them in that thinking that on a dog it tastes black flash would be better capable and able to hunt down future fugitives those individuals who aren't simply slowed down their labor are women who used the excuse of female problems whether they were actual or not was
i a gendered kind of defense against the institution of slavery however they could pull away some labor and some of the profit that these and slavery is got from their labor was psychologically a means by which people felt there is a part of us that they will never again what slavery means to me as a descendant of africans who were enslaved in this land and who survived the holocaust of almost unimaginable physical and emotional brutality as well as what slavery means to this land is
i think that's captured an analogy that initially may sound jarring but i think it captures the essence of all this legacy of the institution of slavery and i think if we compare the response of the descendants of nazis and the descendants of slave holders that there are certain similarities in the sense that neither the descendants of nazis know when the descendants of slave holders holder should have any responsibility for what their ancestors did but that in each case both in terms of nazi germany and this genocidal effort to an hour late are all jews and the response of slave holders and their descendents in this country on the one hand in germany that they were
trials there were reparations there is today still an uneasiness in talking about our recognition at least of this horrendous crimes that took place but if we look at north america on the contrary the descendants of slave holders have created a oftentimes mythology on comments about what i remember what i heard from my great great grandparent is that she or he that they collectively were very kind to their slaves there's been no national apology no governmental recognition all the costs that slavery entailed for the people of african descent in this one
then those in knowledge is dead weather and i have a particular descendent of a nazi i personally was involved in any special or protect their brutality or whether to send another slave holder in this country personally was involved in with pain or politically brutality in each case they were part of a broader system that was responsible for extraordinary crimes against the people and it's all fueled from the same culture of racism that argues in the case of the jews simply they're jewish miss the fact that they are a particular people in particular religion in the case of blacks say patriot and a despising simply because they're not white could lead to the kind
of atrocity that we found in nazi germany and that if we as a people as americans don't acknowledge how very inception of this country was grounded and founded on the line on not be an alien double true for equality but on the contrary of commitment to quality solely and exclusively for white men of property if we don't face up to that truffaut we will perpetuate the kinds of hostilities and irrational discomfort with people of color and so i think we do we need to understand that slavery created certain hatreds there the mythology surrounding an institution of slavery continues today to have that kind of negative impact
is that this happens what i think they're on slavery was never simply an economic issue and critically after this creation of this concept of race came into being then it became as important to exploit and control this population for their of course flavor as it was to assure that this people because of racism would find is somehow and civilize unworthy of being part of this broader nation on that they had to be controlled and so what happens after the civil war already in place where the kinds of me mechanisms of control designed to keep free blacks
beneath whites in the north end the mechanisms in the south to keep free blacks beneath whites in the south so that whatever differences exist and obviously people for the war dom knew it thousands and thousands of people did at the end of the civil war but the one thing that was held in common by these two purported enemy is was their collective commitment to keeping black americans in terms of their social economic intellectual political cultural place beneath that of the majority of white people she is
i think it depends on whether you're black or white immigrant if you're black immigrant is both in terms of the he's more of a lack of use and gaming citizenship and reveals all pretty positive are opportunities that you perceived you would be able to receive in this way that your color was still going to be an added burden in addition to simply are not being us citizens if you're a white immigrant very early on and we have accounts much later of old before people can even learn the english language learn a meager a multiplicity of ways somehow in association with an identification with an affiliation
with people of color or detracted from your viability and your worth and this nation that you have emigrated too so the less than ford or eloquence is the meaning in the power of it the to clear cold sure that no matter what i think this as the stark reality that black people i have had to contend with and that is in the same way that slave parents had to decide in workout at what point do i tell my child the danger of white people black parents have had to somehow i'm still on their children and to assure trod oh sure some kind of dignity in some kind of sense of possibility
what is it and how do you tell a child or how do you personally as a black person face up to the reality that no matter what one does that the stark horrible truth is that once discriminated and despise simply because however are rationally you're not white so i think what black people have done over the years it's encouraged children have all us to try to do whatever they can and to emphasize no props getting an education speaking certainly addressing a certain way why learning and understanding the history of slavery is so important for this country is because not to learn it was sure a
Africans in America
Episode Number
Judgment Day
Raw Footage
Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4 of 4
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/15-3x83j39x4f).
Norrece Jones is interviewed about Butler Island and lives of slaves on large plantations, the breaking up of families and desperate actions by slaves to avoid being sold, Frances "Fanny" Kemble, Headman Frank and the rape of his wife Betty, sexual violence against female slaves, the brutality of female slave owners, the Weeping Time, Cooper London, the lash and the whip, resistance, slave holders never held accountable for atrocities, mechanisms to keep black Americans down.
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
(c) 1998-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Release Agent: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: Jones_Norrece_04_merged_SALES_ASP_h264.mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 0:53:05
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4 of 4 ,” 1998-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020,
MLA: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4 of 4 .” 1998-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <>.
APA: Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 4 of 4 . Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from