Slave Narratives: From The Bullwhip Days

Controlling the Gospel
To this day, we see variation among denominations of Christianity. These are mainly variations of interpretation, which is bound to happen since no one from the Bible is living to verify the true meaning. During the time period described in Slave Narratives, From the Bullwhip Days a collection of stories from former slaves and 12 Years a Slave based on Solomon Northup’s life written by John Ridley, Christianity was controlled by those who could read. Education among slaves was seen as undesirable, an uneducated slave was easier to control as opposed to an educated one. Preaching to those who are unable to read the Bible themselves makes it rather easy to take things out of context, leaving it up to the masters, in this
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Some narratives show how slaves were taught that obeying your master was rewarding in Christianity. Since these slaves were uneducated, they were unable to read the Bible themselves. This disability placed the sole control of what pieces of Christian faith were taught in the hands of the white man. Some were promised better treatment: “The better you be to your master, the better he treat you. The white preachers teach that in the church” (Mellon 241). Others were promised Heaven: “The white preacher would preach along and then he’ud say, ‘And you slaves out there, if you want to have Kingdom Come you got to mind your masters, work hard, and don’t steal your master’s chickens” (Mellon 120). In these recollections from Slave Narratives, From the Bullwhip Days Christianity was simply seen as a reward system for good behavior. Some stories like the ones from Georgia Baker and Mary Reynolds don’t tell us much about what they were taught, but they do show us that Christianity for them was associated with kind gestures. Georgia Baker recalls, “Us had pretty white dresses for Sunday/ Marse Alec wanted evvy- body on his place dressed up dat day He sent his houseboy. Uncle Harris, down to de cabins evvy Sunday mornin ' to tell evvy slave to clean hisself up. Dey warn 't never give no chance to forgit. Dere was a big old room set aside for a washroom” (Mellon 7). Mary Reynolds ties generous actions to Christians: “Alice is a good Christian woman, and she knowed I 'd hunt mighty nigh all night, and she didn 't want nobody to see me coming in Sunday morning wid a gun and dogs. So I went every Friday night and went in de week, too, and dat help a lot to feed de chillun. I don 't owe nobody, not a nickel” (Mellon 232). Neither one of them ever makes a remark about Christianity saying to obey your

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