Thursday, July 16, 2015

Freeing Charles by Scott Christianson

Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. Chimamanda Adichie
Not sure about you, but many of the stories that I was told about Africans who were enslaved were told from the perspective that enslaved Africans were brought to America, fought a little but basically waited for their freedom, were freed, and then Dr. King came alone and fought for our rights.

Not sure about you, but I was not taught that enslaved Africans have being fighting to be free since they landed. History portrays enslaved Africans as the Uncle Tom and Mamie type who were just happy to be alive even if they were enslaved.

However, through my readings this summer, I am hearing a very empowering story of an enslaved people who fought and risked their lives to be free and to free others. African American who fought with the British during The Revolutionary War, fought during The Civil War, and had an organized plan for escape that was called The Underground Railroad and on and on and on.

If we told the Africa American story in American from different perspectives, we would learn some stories that would perhaps empower and inspire.

This story, Freeing Charles, is about an enslaved man named Charles who emancipated himself and fled from Virginia to Philadelphia to live as a free man. He was successful at doing this, but eventually someone found out that he was a fugitive slave, and his master came to Philadelphia to capture him. But what is so remarkable about this story is that the community pulled together and literally fought, like a street fight, to free Charles. “There were Whites, Blacks, women as well as men, girls, and boys.”

In the crowd was The Harriet Tubman, and Christianson turned her into a superhero: “Through it all, Tubman kept thrashing like a demon, even as she was losing all of her gear except for a dilapidated outskirt. She seized an officer and pulled him down, grabbed another and tore away him from Nalle, all the while keeping hold of the slave...” (P.113)

I just love the way that this book showed the community working together to free this man, and it also showed the strength of Harriet Tubman. This is not the story that I was taught...

Eventually, people were able to raise money for Charles’ freedom, and he was able to live happily ever after with his wife Kitty and their children in Washington, DC. “Kitty and Charles appear to have been extremely devoted to each other, leaving behind a story that speaks to the power of love between a man and woman who were determined to remain together despite all of the obstacles placed in their way.” (P. 139)

Now, I have never heard about this type of romantic love between a man and a women during slavery time, and if only this story was told more often.

Scott Christianson dared to tell the enslaved African story from a perspective that uplifts and empowers and shows the power of love......

If you tell a people’s story from different perspectives, it gets us away from that one definitive story.....

This book is approachable, and you may want to add it to your reading list!

Knowledge is power, and I am feeling empowered...

Happy Thursday, My People!

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