As we enter the second week of February, I want to introduce you to the collection of Slave letters at Duke University. One of the myriad ways in which slaves were controlled was by prohibiting them from learning to read and write. When a family member was sold away, they had to rely on finding a literate person willing to write for them.
“You must not expect [me] to write to you Often as it is some trouble to get a person to write for Me” –Hannah Valentine
The recipient then had to find someone to read that letter aloud to them. Husbands to wives, mothers to children, these letters, which were the only way to connect, were not private. They were infrequent and often dangerous.
Take a moment to go read through some of these letters.