“American Baptists Celebrate Emancipation”

I am happy to report that tonight, I have walked away from these readings slightly less of a cynic; this is perhaps the most uplifting piece I have read yet. (Fear not, I know that this happy feeling will be crushed next week.) Nathaniel Paul’s address was truly remarkable in my eyes. I think that it is important for me to note here that my personal feelings in regards differ a bit from students of color. Allow me to explain, being white, and also not having been born in the United States, I do not have any personal connections, nor any biological history rooted to the slavery that look place. With this being said, Paul’s address is truly moving. I felt what African Americans must have felt on that day. When the process of slavery was described, it affected me on a very personal level in the fact that I understand the pain of separation. It especially hit hard when Paul alludes that for most slaves, not surviving the trip over would have been an act of mercy. Furthermore, we continue to see a common thread. Slavery is bad in life, but ones freedom will be gained in heaven. I liked how Paul goes beyond just the issue of slavery. He also goes on to address the fundamental issues in the system of the United States, “[we] offer an excuse for the frames of the Constitution.” (pg. 190) He goes to claim the colonial need for independence from Great Britain is what caused the cuse of slavery to exist. That had people had purer intentions, this have been avoided. However at the same time,Paul states that liberation would not have been achieved had history been different. Remember, as we discussed in class, slaves were very much a symbol of wealth. Through the permanent abolition of slavery in New York, slaves were able to claim back their sense of self once more.

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