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    Frederick Douglass Is One of Many African Americans Who Went Through Slavery

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    Music is a very powerful art that has the ability to connect to people and their feelings, relief the intensity, and shifting the mindset. Seldom, the songs we listen to hold deep meaning interpreted differently by every individual. During the olden days when slaves sang their songs to praise their owners, there was a deeper perspective behind it. An example of this could be found in Frederick Douglass’s autobiography called “From My Bondage And My Freedom”.

    Douglass was born into Slavery in 1818 in Maryland. His given name was Frederick Bailey. According to the History Website, he made an escape from Covey’s farm in 1838 and changed his name to Frederick Douglass so slave catcher could not catch him. When he finally got his freedom, he became an author, political activist and statesperson. The book, written by Jeff Ousborne “Writing Music”, has an article from “From my Bondage and My Freedom” which was published by Frederick Douglass in 1855. Frederick Douglass, who was a former slave in the Southern states before his escape, writes about his life as a slave in the article.

    Every culture brought a different kind of music from the past and is still present within them. All the people around the world, including the most isolated groups, have different kinds of music. In 1619, after slaves were brought into plantations, they brought their own music and culture with them. It started when a Dutch Ship brought African Americans to the British Colony in Jamestown Virginia. Many British people used African Americans as slaves for their labor work. Frederick Douglass was one of the many African Americans to go through slavery. Slaves were supposed to sing while they were working and that is how they communicated with each other and made their owners happy.

    Depending on how you look at music, it can express feelings or simply just be melodious to the ears. As stated by Douglass: “On the contrary, they were mostly of a plaintive cast, and told a tale of grief and sorrow” (81). This quote explains how the songs were being sung by the slaves which were full of depression. Its known to be true that sometimes the songs that you listen to have an effect on your mood. The past that Douglass has been through causes him to very fragile about the slavery topic. “The mere recurrence, even now, afflicts my spirit, and while writing these lines, my tears are falling”(80), affirms Douglass.

    Evidence shows that slaves had to sing while they were working, this helped their masters and overseers know where they were. Douglass explains how there was always some sort of singing going on in the Southern States. He affirms that “A silent slave is not liked by masters or overseers” (80). It’s hard being something that you are not, but this is exactly what the slaves had to do in order to keep their owners happy and proud. For example, Douglass said: “In all of the songs of the slaves, there was ever some expression in praise of the great house farm; something which would flatter the pride of the owner, and, possibly, draw a favorable glance from him” (81). It seems harsh to read and I can only imagine how hard it must be to actually experience slavery. Singing and listening to music expresses our intentions but, this was something that expressed the sorrow feeling in the hearts of the slaves, but they were determined to continue smiling and singing.

    During slavery days, there was only one day when slaves felt some happiness, this was when a slave goes to get their rations of food from the great house, also known as gala days for the slaves. Every slave wants to go there, so people elect one out of many slaves, a person who gets elected would go and get the monthly rations, being selected is a moment of honor and proud. Douglass said, ”While on their way, they would make the dense old woods, for miles around, reverberate with their wild notes”(80/81). Through the travel to the great house, slaves used to sing songs about how good their old masters were. Douglass shares that, this was the only time of the month when slaves sang about true feelings, such as joy, and happiness.

    I have learned a lot from this article and even related to it, one specific quote that really caught my attention was: “The songs of the slave represent the sorrows, rather than the joys, of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears. Such is the constitution of the human mind, that, when pressed to extremes. It often avails itself of the most opposite methods” (82). This quote was fascinating because it spoke the truth and this is something that I personally relate to sometimes. I have been in a position where tears were the only way to relieve the sorrow, to light up my heart and clear my mind. Along with feeling under pressure and having to make choices that I would have not made. Just like tears are the relief of an aching heart; so is music the relief of the sorrow in the heart.

    Nowadays music is a huge part of our life, life is dull without music. I listen to songs whenever I drive, home or at the gym with my friends, basically most of the time because in life there is no joy without music.

    Music is an important part of my life, It can take control all over our emotions like whenever you are sad you understand the lyrics and when you are happy, you enjoy the music. It motivates me while I am down, for instance: when there is no one to cheer me up, music is the one who helps me out of those situations. Sometimes whenever I go to the gym, it motivates me to pull more weight more than my limit. Music has soo much power that It can make you does the things that you might can not without it. I had songs that I remember listening to as a child and they fill me with joy but at the same time they bring me down to where I wish I could relive that childhood. Music that has meaningful lyrics are being ignored nowadays but those are the song that teaches you most about life and I like that kind of songs.

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    Frederick Douglass Is One of Many African Americans Who Went Through Slavery. (2022, Nov 29). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/frederick-douglass-is-one-of-many-african-americans-who-went-through-slavery/

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