Although trading slaves in the Americas was made illegal in 1808, slavery itself was not abolished in the U.S. until the end of the Civil War and with the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865. Nonetheless, Black people in the U.S. narrated their stories as slaves and agitated for the abolishment of slavery. Poetry by authors like Phillis Wheatley, speeches like Jupiter Hammon’s ”Address to the Negroes of New York State” and autobiographies such as Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Fredrick Douglas’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, An American Slave outlined the horrors of antebellum slavery and the immorality of denying Black people in the U.S. their rights as citizens. These slave narratives were widely read and contributed to the efforts to end slavery and grant African American men the right to vote (with the 15th Amendment in 1869). While this did not result in greater equality for African Americans during the Reconstruction Era, African American writers, like Sutton Griggs with his utopian novel Imperium in Imperio (1899) and Francis Harper with her sentimental novel Iola Leroy, continued to criticize race relations and gender norms within U.S. society, challenging the continued oppression of Black people.
- Dozent/in: Saskia Fürst