Interpreting Slave Life

Slavery: Let's talk about it

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Posted By on April 13, 2011

It seems like since NCPH 2011, I have had this burst of energy to continue working and researching and trying to be one of the best in terms of designing the interpretation of slave life. Today was one of those days where I actually got to see if I truly have a passion for it.

I’m used to flexibility of the job and having to flip from one site to another every now and then but today I just felt a little out of it. I really wasn’t in the mood to handle the groups and my mind was here there and everywhere. And that was just with the first site. Then I was told I would have to go out to the country and do a program at the plantation. I automatically say okay because I’m one of those team players who agrees when there is a need and I can and think about it later. Had I been thinking straight, I would have pointed out that I did not have my clothes and I was not in the right frame of mind to even talk to kids about slave life.

I couldn’t get myself together until I had those kids in front of me and when I looked into those lil faces that have no problem hiding their feelings, it was like someone turned on the lights.

I had no idea where the energy came from but suddenly I’m into the story of two slaves who faced difficult decisions during the Revolutionary War and what those decisions cost them. And I have to do this back to back three times. And it’s windy. So I have to talk above the sound of the wind. Because I talk about slavery during the Revolution, I have to make things a little bit more active since slavery really isn’t a fun topic. There’s a lot of jumping around and me creating excitement about the decisions slaves had to make in order to keep kids capitvated for 20 minutes while they stand.

And I’m out there doing this teaching thing and I see the faces of each group and the kids are with me, the chaperones (for the most part) are with me and there is comprehension of what it was like for the slaves thinking, do I join the British forces with the hopes that they give me my freedom? Do I stay with my patriot master thinking that he’ll reward my loyalty and then I remembered why I love doing what I do. It’s not just because the kids think that I’m the best presenter of the day (although they do call me their favorite 🙂 and I cannot deny them that) but it’s the fact that I am able to relate to them and they are able to relate to what I’m saying and no longer am I the lady dressed in the funny clothes. I am the lady that just brought slave life to them in a way they understand. After the thank you’s and applause I get from the last group (pretty sure the clapping was more for the fact that they were done with the field trip) I realized…no matter how I felt before I started, the passion is there and it will always be there.


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