Friday, September 19, 2008
Sojourner Truth and Slavery
"Why are welearning about history? I thought that this was English class!"
There are relatively few books where the life of the author or the subject matter and characters of a book do not factor into the plot of the story. Because books take place in one time period or another or are created to deliver some sort of message, it makes sense to understand the historical relevance and/ or agenda of the author before you embark on a journey with their characters.
One book that is heavily laden with American history is The Day of Tears. This book takes place during the largest auction of slaves ever held in the United States. On March second and third of 1859, more than 430 slaves from ONE plantation were sold to buyers from several states.
Can you imagine this? More than 430 people were torn from their community, their plantation, their families and friends and sold to strangers. It must have been a horrendous experience.
This is why we need to talk about history. In order to understand the magnitude of this event, we must first take in the enormity or slavery in 1800's America. We attempted this feat this morning by reading a children's book entitled Only Passing Through and by taking naotes about the specific facts relevant to The Day of Tears saga.
Only Passing Through is the storry of Sojourner Truth. Truth was an extremely brave and radical former slave. She became heavily involved in the abolitionist movement after she was freed from bondage. Through her travels, she enlightened many about the horrors of her personal experience. She is a woman from whom we can all learn.
After reading this book and having a discussion, we completed a listening guide and took notes about slavery in America. Next class we'll start the book.
Remember, we're working toward becoing empathetic readers. We need to try and place ourselves in the life and times that the characters in our books are experiencing. This is the only way that we can begin to imagine what it must be like to have gone through their experiences.