Racialized Violence and Resistance

In the experiences recorded in this collection, much information is revealed about how previously enslaved individuals understood and coped with the institutionalized and racialised violence perpetrated against them. There are examples of systemic violence experienced by enslaved and freed individuals post-emancipation. As well, there is much information about how individuals resist these systems, like through direct confrontation or opposition or through participation in cultural products such as songs and community, which is an important expression of agency in an oppressive system.

Interview of Mary Ella Grandberry

In the fourth and fifth pages of the Interview of Mary Ella Grandberry, important information is revealed regarding practices of resistance. In the first page, she recalls how she wanted to learn to read despite not being allowed to, and how her father learned to read the bible despite this and the larger lack of control over religious activity enslaved people had. On the fifth page, too, is a story about the outright resistance of a runaway enslaved person, her cousin George, as well as the violence such resistance would bring. As well, between these two stories is a song she recalls her father singing to her, pointing to similar points as in the Interview of Rose Adway

Interview of Rose Adway

This interview describes a woman, Rose Adway, and points to her experiences with racialized violence in a stratifying system after slavery. On the first page, after mentioning she has not gotten her pension even after applying for it, it is important to consider this in the context of stratifying economic conditions which kept black people in America from acquiring as much wealth as white people. As well, this interview points to the resistance and expression of agency of enslaved people in their daily lives and as a way to build community. This is seen in the transcription of the song in the second page, which she recalls singing with her mother. 

Receipt for the Sale of Jane, age 18, and her son, Henry, age 1 and all future children, December 20, 1849

This replicated hand-written receipt from the collection details the purchase of an enslaved woman, as well as ownership over her current and future children. This receipt emphasises the violence inherent in this system of chattel slavery, and especially through being a physical representation of the implications of such systems on controlling the autonomy of individuals such as Jane and Henry.

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