David Blight: Historian helps bring slave narratives to light

Historians in the News

THE VOICE OF the slave is rarely heard. During the more than two centuries of slavery in America, millions of Africans and African-Americans were held in bondage. Of those, only about 200 left behind narratives that have found their way into print. The silence of the slave reverberates like none other, robbing history of a vital voice--specially in Fredericksburg. The voice of Fredericksburg's slaves has been virtually silent.

But with the publication of Yale professor David Blight's "A Slave No More" that has abruptly changed. Blight's work publishes in full the narratives of two slaves, one of them John Washington of Fredericksburg.

In a compact, lively, ungrammatical, and often profound 14,197 words, Washington describes his 16 years as a slave in Fredericksburg and his dramatic choice to run for freedom in 1862. Few slave memoirs match his for plainspoken emotion and drama; he brings texture to slavery and gives voice to a slave--his life, mind, and heart. The Christian Science Monitor calls the narrative "powerful and poignant."...

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