When I Can Read My Title Clear: Literacy, Slavery and Religion in the Antebellum South by Janet Duitsman Cornelius

When I Can Read My Title Clear: Literacy, Slavery and Religion in the Antebellum South by Janet Duitsman Cornelius

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This is the first study to focus on the roots of slavery in the African-American drive for literacy and schooling that exploded immediately after the American Civil War. The author examines why blacks valued literacy, how it played an integral part in the black church, and how it served as an instrument of political resistance in the African-American community under slavery.

Cornelius also explores the complexities and contradictions in the roles played by early southern slaveholders who used literacy as a barrier between black and white, slave and free. While legal restrictions against teaching slaves to read were less extensive than commonly thought, sanctions were brutal and pervasive. However, despite the threat of grim punishments, enslaved African-Americans did learn to read.

Paperback book 1992