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Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831-1865

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By the time of the Civil War, Thomas L. Webber shows, American slaves had created for themselves a new and separate culture, combining elements of their African past and their experiences under slavery in the South. How they were able to educate themselves and their children is the story of this book, told in many cases in the words of the slaves themselves.


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By the time of the Civil War, Thomas L. Webber shows, American slaves had created for themselves a new and separate culture, combining elements of their African past and their experiences under slavery in the South. How they were able to educate themselves and their children is the story of this book, told in many cases in the words of the slaves themselves.

35 review for Deep Like the Rivers: Education in the Slave Quarter Community, 1831-1865

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Webber explores the community created by slaves on American plantations in the mid-19th century. He looks first at the values that white owners wanted to teach slaves, then at the values and education that slaves themselves taught each other--which very frequently were in direct opposition to what their owners wanted to them to believe. It's a fascinating book, very accessible. One thing I particularly liked was Webber's extensive use of oral history. In addition to to using the usual WPA ex-sla Webber explores the community created by slaves on American plantations in the mid-19th century. He looks first at the values that white owners wanted to teach slaves, then at the values and education that slaves themselves taught each other--which very frequently were in direct opposition to what their owners wanted to them to believe. It's a fascinating book, very accessible. One thing I particularly liked was Webber's extensive use of oral history. In addition to to using the usual WPA ex-slave narratives (collected by white researchers), he also uses the Fisk University narratives (collected by black college students). Deep Like the Rivers is not only informative, it's inspiring. Webber doesn't shy away from portraying the evils of plantation life, but he makes it clear that most slaves retained as much agency as they could. It's incredible to see how people living in a vile, horrible system created a rich, deep culture that sustained communities for generations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    The book is a very detailed and researched analysis of the importance of what my mother names as the "knowing your history or else people will repackage it and sell it back to you unrecognizable and for their own gain." Gorgeous, painful, and yet a necessary historical report. The book is a very detailed and researched analysis of the importance of what my mother names as the "knowing your history or else people will repackage it and sell it back to you unrecognizable and for their own gain." Gorgeous, painful, and yet a necessary historical report.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Yates

    This is a really good book. It’s a cultural history mainly compiled from slave narratives, as well as folksongs and other contemporary sources. So it bypasses the usual theories, and deals with lived truths. What does the title mean by “education”? The book begins by describing what the white slaveholders tried to teach the enslaved people in the quarter. Of course, it was forbidden to teach them to read or write, but there was regular religious indoctrination – and it was mostly about connectin This is a really good book. It’s a cultural history mainly compiled from slave narratives, as well as folksongs and other contemporary sources. So it bypasses the usual theories, and deals with lived truths. What does the title mean by “education”? The book begins by describing what the white slaveholders tried to teach the enslaved people in the quarter. Of course, it was forbidden to teach them to read or write, but there was regular religious indoctrination – and it was mostly about connecting God and Jesus with obedience, humility, and passivity. The largest and most interesting part of the book lays out the things that the people in the slave quarter community actually learned. There are nine themes that came through in these slave narratives, nine preoccupations that were largely shared in the quarter community. These are all interesting, and show how a community maintains health even in the most toxic circumstances. One of these themes was a belief that the white people’s version of religion was not actual, true religion, since every slaveholder was in essence a sinner. Another was about black superiority, manifested in the fact that the enslaved people did all the actual work of the plantation, whereas the white people could barely tie their own shoes. Another was about white power, and the need to deal with the white population carefully, subtly and cleverly. Another was about the importance of the spirit world. The author also mentions the themes that weren’t prioritized in these slave narratives. For instance, there was very little about male superiority. It wasn’t a dominant theme. Webber ends the book by describing the educational instruments of the quarter community: the family, the peer group, the community, the songs and stories that circulated, and more. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the clandestine congregations which met deep in the woods at night, and the various ruses the enslaved people used to keep these meetings secret. He also describes the different ways community leaders were chosen, and the ways unrelated adults took over the care of children when their parents died or were sold.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dwayne

    I didn't review this book? OMG! Read this book! Seriously. One thing that annoys me about conversations about our ancestors is that their words were preserved in interviews, and in their own writings, and the story we tell about them is so different from the story they tell about themselves. This book is one of those examples. It used to be famous, now it's only famous because librarians will recommend it to you if you ask to learn about the ancestors. If you have any interest at all in learning I didn't review this book? OMG! Read this book! Seriously. One thing that annoys me about conversations about our ancestors is that their words were preserved in interviews, and in their own writings, and the story we tell about them is so different from the story they tell about themselves. This book is one of those examples. It used to be famous, now it's only famous because librarians will recommend it to you if you ask to learn about the ancestors. If you have any interest at all in learning about the kind of people they were, this is worth a read. Also, it's well written, and short.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Belle

    A lot of valuable information regarding the education of slaves during the 19th century. I found the second half of the book to be much more interesting than the first half.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Wade

  7. 5 out of 5

    JJ

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ewa Kleczaj-siara

  11. 5 out of 5

    TruEssence

  12. 5 out of 5

    Daniel O.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Allison

  14. 4 out of 5

    IquoImoh Terry

  15. 5 out of 5

    Xanthipi

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Goodridge

  17. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Farhana Faruq

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michael Strode

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gina Rizzuto

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melody

  23. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tandra Birkett

  28. 5 out of 5

    Churrell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Damani Potts

  30. 5 out of 5

    D.Feliciano

  31. 5 out of 5

    Desmond

  32. 5 out of 5

    Vannessa

  33. 5 out of 5

    j to the muthafuckin R

  34. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  35. 4 out of 5

    George

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