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From My Bondage and My Freedom, how do Frederick Douglass's words on spirituals affect...

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hell0kitty | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 6, 2013 at 11:19 PM via web

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From My Bondage and My Freedom, how do Frederick Douglass's words on spirituals affect your political understanding of slavery today?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Douglass makes it clear that the employment of spirituals is vitally important to understanding the slave condition.  On multiple levels, the spirituals helped to bring out much of what modern understanding of slavery is.  Douglass makes clear that the spiritual was one of the few ways that the slave can give voice to their predicament.  The immense suffering and hardship endured in slavery was a condition in which there was little way of being able to express oneself.  The spiritual enabled such expression of a horrible condition to happen.  Additionally, I think that another element in the spiritual that Douglass brings out which impacts my understanding of the slavery condition was that the spiritual was a calling out to the divine. The spiritual called out to the divine, almost as a way to ask questions as to why such a condition needed to be endured.  When Douglass talks about the power of the spiritual, it is in this light, as a way for which the slave could ask questions of the divine.  These are deep and philosophical questions involved in the slave asking why their condition in life is the way it is.  This profound level of questioning is evident in the use of the spiritual and Douglass' explanation of it.

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