They were degraded, kept like animals and had no civil rights. They were for decades, invisible in the human society. However, slowly as advancements were made, as agriculture took and backseat to science and people began to see beyond economics, things changed. Blacks and white people began to realize that slavery was wrong. They realized that enslaving a whole race of people was simply unacceptable. Over time, more and more slaves began to get an education. They began to read and understand that their lives had value. Individual people changed the course of a nation as they taught others that racism was something to be scorned. The battle was slow, it took decades to win but steadily they did win. As literacy spread, as knowledge and understanding of the value of a human life was established, abolition became possible, and acceptable.
Analysis: Initially, blacks came to the shores of American as missionaries caught them in African and took them into bondage. This first set of slaves was perhaps the most terrified. They had come to a strange land, brought by strange men who considered them savages. They forced them to give up their religion, their culture and their social behavior and made them into a slave. The brutality they endured broke their spirit and any rebellion on their part meant sure death. Since they were considered savages their lives were worthless.
Once the culture of slavery was established the economic advantage the country gained allowed the culture to continue. It was forgotten that the original slaves were brought to be 'saved' by the greater god. The fact was they were a cheap form of labor that allowed their masters to control them without any rules or regulations. Overtime slavery became an institution so that children born into it knew no other life and did not realize that they could have something more than the brutal life they lived. That was the tragedy of slavery. Human life is sacred mainly because it is an intelligent form of life. Yet, this race of people was completely cut off from getting an education, from being allowed to realize that they were even human.
The critical analysis of African American literature is the key to understanding slavery. For it is hard to believe how the blacks allowed themselves to be slaves for so long. Reading the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave we realize how a whole race was subjugated for so long. From the first line of the book we realize that slave owners thought of slaves as animals. They were treated like animals and so, came to believe that they were less than human. Slaves were so confined to their individual plantations that they did not know another world existed outside it. Douglass writes of himself as a boy who did not know how old he was. That was nothing unusual for slave he wrote "know as little of their ages as horses know of theirs" (p. 47). This goes to prove the mindset of slaves; they considered themselves comparable to animals.
Slave owners tried hard to ensure that no slave became literate. They realized that the only way to control the blacks was making them completely dependent on them. They made sure slaves were born and stayed that way. Every slave owner knew that once a slave learnt to read and write he would be able to think about and critically evaluate his situation and that would lead to the abolition of slavery. In the words of Mr. Auld, his master, "If you give a nigger an