All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw
The autobiography of Nate Shaw while hard to read due to what I would call old southern slang was interesting but saddening as well. Emancipation was intended to give the black man his freedom, but this was not accomplished with the mere passing of a law. It would take many years and many lives lost before progress would be made that would make a difference.
As a child Nate was expected to do adult chores. Nate was expected to plow in the fields from dawn to dusk at the early age of nine and was sawing with a cross cut saw by age twelve with his sister. He was treated very badly by his father who did not hesitate to beat him mercilessly if he wasn’t able to perform a task or was thought to be disrespectful in any way. Not only was he subjected to these beatings but his mother and stepmother was as well. Food was sometimes scarce and instead of dividing it among all the members of the household Nate’s father would expect to have it for himself while his children mostly grew up on bread and water. Nate’s mother would often give the children her food going with very little herself. Witnessing this behavior, Nate vowed to never treat his wife or children in the manner that he and his family had been treated.
Black children were not allowed to be educated or to seek education unless permitted to do so unless “the white man, master man allowed it.” (pg 33) Another requirement was that if a school was provided for the black children then the parents of those children were expected to help pay for the cost of running the school. This stipulation for funding caused black schools to close whenever funding ran out and before time for planting. Nate’s father would not agree to pay any money for his children to be educated so Nate and his brothers and sisters were never allowed an education. Instead Nate’s father would hire him out to work for white farmers to bring extra money into the home. Despite the conditions of his...
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