The majority of slaves worked on plantations in the Deep South. A regular working day lasted from before sunrise to after sunset, “from can to can’t”-from when one can see until the sun is gone and one can’t see. Slaveholders viewed slaves as property, treating them as farm animals or equipment-rarely as humans. Southern plantations mainly raised cotton, a crop that required constant labor in the fields. Slaves also worked with indigo, corn, and other crops.
Slaves did not work only in the fields; many were house servants, such as maids, cooks, and butlers. Other slaves were skilled laborers and craftspeople who helped make each plantation self-sufficient or who worked in industry and manufacturing. At the end of each workday, slaves also returned to their quarters to do their personal housework.
In addition to daily passive resistance to slavery, slaves often planned insurrections and escapes. If caught, a slave would be beaten, even killed. Patrollers, commonly called “patterollers,” were always on the lookout for runaway slaves. Some slaves and many free blacks helped runaways; but some slaves turned in runaways, probably out of fear of getting punished themselves. Some abolitionists became “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves to evade patrollers and escape to the North or beyond to Canada.
Slaves resisted in many ways in order to assert their humanity and independence. Singing religious songs or songs with secret messages of escape, refusing to work, and helping others escape or rebel were some ways that slaves resisted their owners. The labor of slaves was vital to the success of the plantation system, so slaves often found ways to disrupt this system.
Slave owners used religion to control the slaves, forcing them to attend services at which a preacher would tell them that slavery was their lot in life. But in the stories of the Old Testament, enslaved Africans heard about the Israelites in slavery and realized the story was like their own. The slaves began to use religion and religious songs to express their feelings about slavery and their hopes for freedom.
Once Africans were brought to America as slaves, they were sold to the highest bidders at auctions. Slave merchants behaved no differently than grain merchants, selling people as if they were agricultural products. They broke apart many families on the auction block, allowing family members to sell to different owners.
Africans came from a strong tradition of extended families living together. Slave owners in the United States ripped this cultural practice away from Africans, tearing families apart on the slave auction block. Once on the plantation, many slaves were forced to have children in order to produce more slaves for their owners. Despite this inhumanity, slaves struggled to create family lives for themselves.
The children of slaves were seen as the property of the master, not the children of the women who gave birth to them. They could be sold away at the whim of the owner, never to see their families again. From their birth, they were trained to believe that they were inferior to whites and that they would spend their lives serving their master.
Facilitates the group work process to make sure the act-it-outs runs smoothly from start to finish. Leads the group’s discussion of what to show in the act-it-out and creates the storyboard. Helps coordinates all parts of the performance and leads the rehearsal. Acts in the act-it-out.
Leads the process of writing a script for the act-it-out, including group members’ suggestions. Writes and presents an introductory statement for the act-it-out. Provides all group members, and Mr. Kelly, with a typed copy of the script. Acts in the act-it-out.
Coordinates props, costumes, and sound effects for the act-it-out. Determines how to make scene changes quickly. Solicits ideas and input for special effects from all group members. Thinks of ways to involve the audience when appropriate. Acts in the act-it-out.
Examines the primary and secondary sources for information to use in the act-it-out. Also finds additional information in the textbook and from other sources. Makes sure the group accurately uses the information on the topic. Acts in the act-it-out.