Henry Bibb’s “Conjuration and Witchcraft” excerpt on Sernett’s African American Religious History contained information at the very beginning that put things into perspective for me. In the second paragraph, Bibb describes how masters encouraged their slaves to get drunk and fight each other on the Sabbath for the sole purpose of the master’s amusement. Aside from the fact that they were treated like circus animals, it shows how slaveholders view their servants as not having the capacity to fully grasp the set of beliefs that these people apparently hold so dear. The Sabbath plays such a crucial role in Christianity, yet the oppressed were deprived of participating in it. I would use this text to argue that plantation owners didn’t convert these people out of the “goodness” of their hearts. It was more of a control mechanism, hence the reason why slaves learning the bible was discouraged. Expecting a slave to understand or comply with Christianity at the time without knowing how to read the bible or be involved in the holiest day of the week is like expecting a college student to do well in class without the course textbook while never showing up to the classroom. That is why I believe these people began making creating their own rituals such as conjuration.
Leave a reply