Slavery in Colonial and Antebellum Periods

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African Americans have used a variety of narrative forms to convey the history of inequality and lack of social justice in the United States during times of enslavement. These black Americans presented their experiences and feelings to write autobiographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, and speeches in hopes to be emancipated. The many obstacles that African Americans had to endure in order to gain this equality in the United States are expressed through these works of literature. By examining the art of literature through multiple authors of both the Colonial and Antebellum periods, these fears, struggles, and hardships demonstrate the way in which the form of narratives advanced the equality and social justice of African Americans.

The Colonial period (1746-1800) was the start of this fight against inequality and imprisonment of black Americans, through the form of narratives, letters, and poems. These works of literature are focused amongst the changes and struggles of coming to the “New World” from Africa. This narrative’s “illustrate the emotional aspects,” and direct their “bears upon the “doubleness,” the “divided” selves of Africans who were transplanted, against their will, to colonial America” (Smith 5). These Colonial period authors such as; Equiano, Phillis Wheatley, and Jupiter Hammon through literature wrote about their experiences, daily life, and struggle with freedom. By sharing these views through literature, the authors of the colonial period were able to record history and lead others closer to equality and social justice for all black Americans.

Being born in Africa and transported on a slave ship to the Americas, Olaudah Equiano was the author of one of the first ever black narratives and “powerfully articulates the experience of blacks in colonial America” (Smith 9). Equiano named this autobiography “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself”, which depicts...
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