“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”
― Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General, U.N.O 2012
Andrew Jackson’s slave narrative is a unique narrative, which includes some of the most compelling themes of nineteenth-century slavery, including labor, resistance and flight, family life, relations with masters, and religious belief. Due to this fact, it is crucial to continue reading slave narratives as they serve an important purpose. Foremost, slave narratives provide readers with the opportunity to better understand the trials and tribulations of slaves from the people who had endured the experience. They also allow the world to better understand why slavery was considered to be cruel and inhumane and teach readers to learn from our errors in the past. According to William L. Andrews E. Maynard Adams Professor of English, slave narratives serve as a way to teaching us about history but at the same time provide us with a “dialogue” between whites and blacks (Andrews). This dialogue he is referring to should, “probe the origins of psychological as well as social oppression and to critique the meaning of freedom for black and white Americans alike from the founding of the United States to the present day” (Andrews).
Legacies of slavery are still operative in the present day in the form of human trafficking. Human trafficking includes the illegal trade of humans for the purpose of sexual or forced labor. Many of these individuals were taken from their families and forced to forget the lives they once had much like slaves did during slavery. Slavery no matter what form it takes strips individuals of their personal freedom, family and most importantly of their humanity. According to the United Nations approximately 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked (“UN News Centre”).
First hand experiences allow the reader to put a face on the evils of slavery. Jackson’s narrative is an excellent example of the use of first hand experiences as he describes the horrible treatment he underwent a slave. By giving such insight into his own story, Jackson is able to establish a connection with the reader at an emotional level. This connection allows Jackson to gain sympathy and credibility not only as a writer but also as an abolitionist. Jackson traveled England giving several lectures on the evils of slavery and wrote this novel in hopes that readers would realize the horrors of slavery and would eventually abolish it. Narratives such as Jackson’s and many other slave narratives helped eventually lead to the abolition of slavery.
Although slavery no longer exists its ramifications still ripple through our society. Racism is a prevalent issue that still exits even though slavery has been abolished for over 150 years. The use of slave narratives helps readers understand the hardships of slavery and that the fight against slavery is not over. Society as a whole still owes it to narrators such as Jackson, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Fredrick Douglas who fought so hard to abolish slavery that racism is not acceptable. Slave narratives should teach readers that in order to truly abolish slavery, racism must be abolished as well.
Andrew, Williams. “Documenting in the American South.” North American Slave Narratives:An Introduction to the Slave Narrative. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil, n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2012.
Annan, Kofi. “Uniya.” Jesuit Social Justice Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2012. <http://www.uniya.org/education/humanrights_quotes.html>.
“UN-backed container exhibit spotlights plight of sex trafficking victims.” UN News Centre. (2008): n. page. Web. 14 Dec. 2012. <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25524&Cr=trafficking&Cr1>.