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     Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African
    American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 3 of 4
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this show gray is this right this early this point in the founding of this nation the hope that the great question of african people and enslaved for our freedom the great hold an ambition of those that minority of blacks who
had gained their freedom and the prospect that perhaps these ideas about an immutable rights arm will be brought in to capture the kind of an alien a ball truth about freedom that blacks believed in that never was held on are shared by the majority of whites were talking about this idea there would have been this whole dead perhaps these two views would come together and there was evidence that there was this possibility that fact dead beginning in pennsylvania gradual emancipation laws were enacted gave hope the fact that thousands of blacks who had fought in the american revolution gave gained their freedom gave hope but at the same time
there were indications that would've been very unsettling home from the outset for example the fact that those individuals most identified with these ideas specifically thomas jefferson was himself a slave holder forced to anyone who had this hope that there would be freedom for all our was compromised and also the fact for those blacks in the north who were free of the number that there are still of course widespread slavery in the north but for those individuals who were hoping that these gradual emancipation acts would avenge the freedom in the north what i've been observing if not experiencing themselves are a horrible truth and that is a number of white slave holders in the north to prevent the economic loss
from any emancipation knack for selling slaves so we have between seventeen ninety and eighteen thirty a decrease of over seven hundred blacks in rhode island home and that throughout the north either the black population remained stagnant or there is a decrease then there's really no way to explain this other than the fact that these individuals are being sold and so where the ideas worked with what took precedence on mondays i am early americans is growing white americans and again i think that the key issue that we have to always remember is that nothing was more sacred and this burly nation than the sanctity of property whether that probably wasn't human flesh or in a piece of real estate
in this he says i think with the issue of progress in this country technology and technological innovations have always been terribly important valued esteemed many american heroes are those individuals who have come out with technological innovations but that progress through technology from the perspective of blacks has always had its a different meaning and i guess that meaning is best some laws in the invention of the cotton gin a technological invention on from one perspective would help alleviate human toil but in the context of this country where blacks north south east and was
there are demeaned or considered less viable or that they're not people who should be considered in any kind of alleviation of human suffering are dismissed and most americans have was that you the age of technology with african americans has always been a home next and in the case of the cotton gin the seventeen nineties because of the nature and the attitude of of americans and white americans at the time and slave holders home in a different kind of world in a different time that technological advance might've been designed and thought of as a means of
alleviating suffering but since black lies with the volume or not considered viable in any way other than as laborers this cotton gin was simply used to further explore the slave population and it triggers among slaves and the billy resulted in any question about what its fate would've been home would have been a further diminishing of the hopes of african americans free and slave at the beginning of that the nation the early issues of this country on his diesel bird that causes a further expansion love the institution of slavery and ultimately leads to a phenomenal domestic slave trade that have parallels in some interesting
ways with the original middle passage because the lands that were opened in the south and southwest because of on the expansion of cotton home spurred are created a situation where thousands and thousands of slaves are being torn from loved ones from friends from iran just the identity that they have with the alliance i mean as an enemy agrarian people that there is a certain feel and experience with them and regardless of their status and that these people are being shipped in part of the sport of their journey by ship shackled on the way i can imagine memories and parallels with the stories that they would've heard from the middle passage that they're experiencing again home during this chip his trip to another
destination and oppression progress in this country and progress based on technological innovation innovations whether these innovations are written and eight the cotton gin the locomotive whatever for people do not only themselves and have no power to take advantage whether through travel or the building of any businesses which was a case of slaves
on all these technological innovations man was new names to further exploit them in the case of the rural roads the laying of trucks in the case of iron working factories and trigger eye and works in richmond on many of the captains of industry or early on technological innovators or inspired to buy whole groups of slaves to work these new gadgets and machines that way oh i think that the huge the issue in this country on one of the many more aspects of the growth of this country has been the
sanctity and they're valuing of property in the hands of a few at whoever's expense who was not privileged enough or had the opportunity it provides an opportunity for more riches for the owners of property the individuals who had access to the broadest amounts of land and for a whole new group of whites aspiring in this country for homes the economic mobility and status of owning slaves here is an opportunity for them to get a piece of land and the cotton gin it's going to be for more economical and feasible and for them to amass some fortunes
for blacks whether free or slave because we cannot forget that even those wives who had secured their freedom the high probability that they had relatives remaining in slave and bad this is simply one more names on this time technological of further securing their shackles and it leads to an aspect of slavery always existed be severance of family ties to severance of ties and friendship because to man into woman these new territories and these self himself was home daddy this movement and so it's just as with a cotton gin so with the sale of human being is that what counted was the prophet what counted of help desk
and ken oh i am rich myself and that i had been a white slave owner who cares nothing more than to fulfill the american dream of richness and in the two conference despite the fact that this is on the back of black men and women the latter right the crucial aspect of thomas jefferson as revealed in his relationship and his correspondence with eli whitney on it is a correspondence an interest with other things we know about thomas jefferson
captions are exactly what his primary concern is this primary concern is home a way to continue his interest in consuming and acquiring every luxury and every item that provides some status available in the cotton gin i think his interest as a slave owner was hardly to home find a way to perhaps free any of his slaves with some technological innovation com it is an interest in the kind of prophet i think that he might have acquired from home and think again his concern and his interest in the cotton gin forces the sort should force us and my thinking to think about thomas jefferson not in terms of words that deeds he mutters occasionally thoughts about emancipation
that yet never liberated slaves alone he feels some discomfort with having his name in the paper in the press associated with the the runaway slaves or any aspect of of slavery but yet he's very committed to keeping those who allow home to travel and to build again and again wanted child thank you tomorrow
i don't think that thomas jefferson as a contradiction i think that americans who even pondered the issue of the founding father author speaks with inalienable rights as somehow home not believing in those rights and those beliefs because of the slave ownership is not a contradiction because of his virulent racism that he doesn't consider these blacks were revered freedom if we look at the kinds of comments he makes about them both in terms of their odor in terms of what we consider he's writing in the eighteenth century on in the eighteenth century about this belief in black men as having some particular desire and craving for white women and in the same passage to talk about orangutans having a greater
desire to have sex with african women then the females of one of its own species this is one of the most well read man in the world at the time so when he makes these arguments he knows exactly what he's saying and it reflects arm a hatred and hostility dad dozens i think in any way conflict with his other interests and that is to make money to be successful and i think that the most important thing we can learn from thomas jefferson about american history
and the place of africans and african americans is that these dual realities in this country the sanctity of property tom and as innocent and he kept the society does this sense of one's possessions define one's of flying those possessions in the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century on in the case of alton lead millions of people were human beings and that that sent to tv on property was so important that it didn't matter that there are women and men and children who were being compelled to labor on by the way who were being sold from their family members and loved ones and if we don't consider the mr our tube that the
cheek the other arm emphasis on property we lose an understanding of what this country was created when he talks about the pursuit of happiness that happiness was quite central in his thinking about happiness was the ability to have this property in human beings with me i think that the pursuit of happiness for slaves was the ability to gain their freedom and i am sure that the slave who was in the company serving his master thomas jefferson as thomas jefferson were was pending these eloquent
words about freedom was being informed once again as countless other words there what they mean when they say freedom and what they mean when they talk about the pursuit of happiness clearly is something very very different from what i as a slave and other people of color in this society believe and the finest freedom and happiness he says boom i think it all pretty issue of of how blacks
read and understood ideas in unbeautiful phrases in the declaration of independence and the constitution it was very different because blacks understood and recognize that of thomas jefferson who owned slaves who has a slave serving him at every point of his life when he goes off to college and when he goes to philadelphia to the constitutional convention on but there is this major chasm between the two this is beef in the heart of the understanding of slave rebels and in this case specifically gabriel part of i think a culture of racism in the society argues that all ideas and principles of
violent significance had to have calm externally from african americans and so that there's a tendency to think that slave rebels come somehow had to be spurred whether by they were beaten critically that hard that day and that inspired them to lead a rebellion for someone like a parole hearing the revolutionary rhetoric during the american revolution some house where he got all of those ideas the essential issue and understanding gabriel and all rebels before and all rebels after is that people were willing and interested in taking any ideas in every idea but then he has other blacks had their own ideas about freedom and obviously their ideas how
freedom were very different from the people who were riding on the constitution and the declaration of independence as well because those writing the declaration of independence completely excluded by people they do not consider and not only by the people but now women an arm whites who didn't have property where is we know from a home the blacks who was thinking about that's bb every game rules should revolutionary in polls came from multiple sources he's following in a long line of blacks before him who advocated freedom and liberty for all
what happens and american society is that each time white people at each show i'm sure in history seem to start talking about ideas of freedom or ideas that might help their own ideas big arrest them but to suggest that the only source of ideas with those that are coming from whites i think further fuels that culture of racism that denies the body of ideas and thinking that blacks had themselves do you think that is i think that we must never forget that any kind of move toward liberation among blacks was a question of life and death
and so that kind of thinking and the seriousness with which home any potential rubble had that was incredibly important and for some searches quotes a letter was going to be thinking about and reading and taking and listening and articulating whatever and everything he felt might be calm conducive to making people risk their lives in addition to coming forth with the courage and wednesday the enormous risk of clotting and thinking about a rebellion once that decision is made is the
enormous logistical complication that the only time that slaves would have had any mobility without the most rigid observation of whites would have been on a sunday would have been that night own religious gatherings could have in some cases provide an opportunity for people to me but the fact that there are all these things governed weird to me who to trust our own how the plot and plan this to keep open lines of communication and the case of richmond and gabriel watermen on the james in the same way as seen in black scene and throughout the slavery period often more the vehicles through which information about the vaults or ideas that would encourage people to think about the
vaults where there is indeed the risk for the trail was very high matt like to emphasize how my belief what what strikes me most important phenomenal in actuality is that there was so little collaboration generally throughout this period but in the case of revolt says understandable is that this is a life and death prosper and anyone becoming nervous pam people would know that if they were charges being a conspirator i could easily lose their life and so the prospect of someone on the train was very high there became a tradition and the slave community
that would've been passed through oral traditions that every each succeeding rubble would have had a greater obstacle and challenge and recruiting people because that oral history of betrayals was larger longer i would've given a greater sense of hopelessness about successfully bringing that off that was phenomenal bouncing gabriel is how close it got fifty accounts and the inference is we can make about the numbers that it lasted so long before a betrayal is quite extraordinary it's all tied to their connections between the sense of gaining their freedom through this patrol of sometimes your monitor rewards and we can't forget
anytime a community beings sometimes their ties between particular owners and the kicker slaves that was close enough in some instances that that slave wanted to assure the safety of his or her own power wouldn't hear about all the slave holder is being killed but of course you can't have it both ways and i think gabriel hope to gain not only for on himself in the immediate area by think there was this perception that once securing the richmond area that there was the possibility of expanding and i mean we know we have to remember that these aren't wild eyed fanatics that they're thinking about the prospect of all possible loss and the case of gabriel this belief that if they failed that they would somehow be able to find their way to haiti with
that he came so close to success that gay ruled that the most successful thing about gabriel my thinking is that he came so close at this piano inexplicable kind of thing in the history of humankind i mean the combination of the betrayal and this unbelievable thunderstorm i guess and i also i have to say i imagine there must have been slaves in the aftermath of this who felt having come this close this door is there some forced out there that's that's keeping us from ever ever really achieving our freedom there must been the kind of despair and indeed the for the from accounts that they had not been any storming people's memory like this and at that time to repeat for
much more connected with issues a spiritual waltzing in and policing the guide their africans who or are involved in this who have their own beliefs on them i felt that this was some sign that perhaps they were destined for free they beg a role is an example a very early example of a black person who's looking the world over for any other black people and people of color that could inspire on this quest for freedom and clearly a rule is fired electrified by the extraordinary achievement of tucson the ritual in the defeat of one of the most powerful armies in the world at the time
i don't know if i could do it if anybody dreamland the inspiration of the gabriel on is the same terrain and inspiration of many other black people struggling for freedom in this lion was looking at me in every place where other black oppress people had struck out for freedom and in this case this wonderful case succeeded and that's the successive tucson inspired every other black person struggling for freedom in this land and saw the abolition of the institution of slavery
he's been good the issue of the kidnapping in the north captures so many crucial aspects about the black experience in this country that in the population that slavery had been abolished and then the population that there was a critical however a small but critical number of non blacks to declare themselves against the institution of slavery what kidnappings revealed is that no place even a place of freedom and even a place where you had whites to arm with the most progressive from a black perspective that they could be taken
so kidnappings revealed the challenge of free blacks every place and kidnappings also reveal a very early example all social hierarchies and social divisions in the black community in the sense that those blacks who were most economically secure also in many ways were best protected in regard to kidnappings at least no regard to the people most susceptible to kidnapping people most susceptible which children and your most of fluent blacks at the time have their children in private schools and under this kind of supervision that would have made it more difficult for the kidnappers to take their children
i think there were two kidnappings end this in late nineteenth early nineteenth century armed north it would be just one more example of a repeating oh a long tradition of an exploitation of brutalizing ocean all africans and their descendants because in the same way that africans are being watched during the period of the trans atlantic slave trade to the coast and the kind of suffering and beating him and illnesses these children and adults who were being kidnapped in the north and being watched the south but i can only imagine that the oral histories and traditions of the middle passage is about on these tracks to the coast and being held in pens
in another context in another generation in another century are being repeated in this land of the free as beans beans each glimmer of hope that african americans have had in this country something has happened seemingly you to deter them from maintaining that faith and for free blacks were kidnapped forests not only into bondage but in this completely alien and strange environment home we can help and assume that this is going to be yet another parallel with what the first africans who were enslaved
experience being taken to a completely different area completely alien to their culture and their reality and if we think about someone such as charles ball who is married who has children from his first thoughts when he's captured him he's taken and it makes the request that can actually see was first thought is that issue of the fertility of any resistance and then his thought immediately goes to face in that quickly this is a fait accompli and he simply asked can i see my family before then one of the things to me when i read this it just sends a chill down my back that the response that he gets is you can get another wife in georgia and so he is a man who's lost his freedom and has not even given the opportunity
for one last communication one last look one last touch of the people that he loved so dearly and in addition to this finds himself in this completely alien environment and we're not for of black worldview and a cultural dimension that africans and their descendants create to incorporate people like charles ball because of all these southern southwestern communities you're having this constant infusion of people who've been traumatized traumatized by the loss of their freedom traumatized by the loss of their webs one of the most important propagandistic aspects of american society is the opportunity for security
for pursuit of happiness i am for free blacks despite the culture of racism and despite the are no mets and opportunities for any kind of security or any kind of happiness for themselves nonetheless did begin to have some ideas in some sense of freedom and security with kidnappings anyone who moved to another level of thinking well you know slavery is this horrible institution there are these people there and i'll do whatever i can if they escape alarm to help them on the air was no doubt among some the possibility of distancing themselves from these people kidnappings would have brought a certain stark reality any illusions that they may have
been developing about their safety their security in their pursuit of happiness would have to be at their minimum reevaluated yeah i think the deed the ban on the transatlantic slave trade him at the lead would have provided for africans and african americans this yet another glimmer of hope about the abolition of the institution of slavery there no that would've been some who would've been thinking in terms of since there is this cotton gin and since we see in the papers and we hear a moment white's this incredible happiness and joy of
possibly themselves becoming slave holders that if indeed this happens they're going to need laborers and if they're not getting them from africa they're going to be getting them from the existing territories and that probably knowing suspicion or fear is that actuality what did in fact happen that it triggers this enormous domestic slave trade were quite literally hundreds of thousands of blacks from the seventy nine his own or being forcefully marched another arm trek into a deeper and deeper what impression
the choices and options of of africans and their descendants corn slave to preclude a sale or being forced to leave whatever environment that they were in an all their attachments of friendship in law were very limited but every conceivable way of preventing it was attempted whether that would be tom appealing to the master directly arm and i think this is where it you get the stark reality of of slaves knowing exactly what they mean and cutting through any kind of language of appeals of sentimentality of of go into this issue of the value of their labor and this is what the master cares about most and when any such appeal on this is
going to be very few slaves who have even today would have the ear of their owner a large plantation the only slaves that would've had that access were slaves who worked in the big house or slaves who had certain skilled positions that the owners would have had contact with them home on the other extreme would be the issue of mutilation their property their own being sold for their physical violin their capacity to work they understood its hands the first attempt being able to talk to the master and make an appeal about the greater valuing keeping him or her with that failing is the possibility of of cutting off a foot cutting off fingers on the middle ground is somehow presenting themselves as not being sound and you have a whole body of legal documentation of slave holder is taking another slave holder to court
Africans in America
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Brotherly Love
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Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 3 of 4
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Norrece Jones is interviewed about African-Americans and the idea of freedom following the Revolution, technology and further oppression of African Americans for profit, Thomas Jefferson as a slave owner, slaves as property, what freedom and happiness meant to slaves, Gabriel's Rebellion, kidnappings of free blacks in the North
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American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
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Chicago: “Africans in America; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 3 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; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 3 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; 103; Brotherly Love; Interview with Norrece T. Jones, Associate Professor of History and African American Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University. 3 of 4 . Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from