It leaves students thinking that only those who attempted to flee wanted their freedom.Instead, teachers must spend an equal if not greater amount of time on the subtler ways that African Americans resisted, drawing students’ attention to the everyday acts of defiance that were far more common than rebellion or flight.
It is not enough either simply to mention one or two enslaved people who escaped to freedom.
This has the same effect as narrowly focusing on rebellion.
They wanted their freedom, and when that proved impossible to obtain, they endeavored to make life worth living, even under the most appalling conditions.
Rebellion was the most dramatic type of resistance to slavery.
A torrential rain the night of the insurrection delayed the blacksmith’s plans just long enough for the plot to be revealed by a pair of enslaved turncoats.
For this project on how slavery is taught, The Washington Post interviewed more than 100 students, teachers, administrators and historians throughout the country and sat in on middle school and high school history classes in Birmingham, Ala.; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Germantown, Md.; Concord, Mass.; Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Washington, D. Gabriel and 26 others would eventually be executed.
In 1800, an enslaved blacksmith named Gabriel, who lived and worked near Richmond, plotted to topple the Old Dominion’s slaveholding regime.
Gabriel planned to lead a group of armed rebels to Richmond to seize the state capital.
As long as slavery existed, African Americans resisted.
Teaching resistance effectively requires focusing on more than a handful of highly visible and extremely dramatic attempts to secure freedom. Uprisings make clear that African Americans who engaged in rebellion opposed slavery.