BLOG: Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina (2010)

Faithful Slave Monument, Mebane. Photo courtesy of Adam Domby as seen on http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/
Faithful Slave Monument, Mebane. Photo courtesy of Adam Domby as seen on http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/

 

Johnston, Angelina Ray, and Wise, Robinson. “Commemorating Faithful Slaves, Mammies, and Black Confederates.” Blog. Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, March 19, 2010. http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/features/essays/ray_wise/.

“…Anxious to refute any suggestion that slavery had required the dehumanization of African Americans, white Southerners recalled their enslaved caretakers as willing “servants” who had been content, even grateful, for their lot in life. These commemorative gestures, which only hinted at the complex relationship that existed between slaveholders and slaves, served to legitimize white privilege and inform blacks of their “proper” place during the Jim Crow era. Simultaneously, some African Americans exploited the image of the “faithful slave” by pointedly reminding whites who railed against black criminality and fecklessness that blacks had been trustworthy in the past and, in fact, remained so. Even today, recent efforts to commemorate so-called “Black Confederates,” or slaves who allegedly fought on behalf of the Confederacy, demonstrate the continuing contests over acknowledging the historical complexities of American slavery….”

First published here (2010) and republished here (2013) in four installments.

Featured Image: [Susie Sharpe Family]” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. As seen here: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/nc_post/id/774/rec/8

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