Between 1936 and 1938, government workers interviewed freed Blacks about their experiences during slavery. Jefferson Franklin Henry was interviewed for the Federal Writers’ Project in Athens, Georgia at the age of 78. Some historians suggest that the FWP interviews are not a good source of information because the interviewees were children when they were enslaved and therefore, might not remember their experiences clearly. However, in this interview, Henry goes into a fair amount of detail about the brutal treatment he suffered on the plantation. Henry states that many of the enslaved people would dance and drink all night, even though (perhaps because) it would interfere with their work in the morning and they were subjected to harsh punishments because of it (p.10). This subversive action asserts their humanity, in spite of the commodification and dehumanization that is forced on them. Enslaved people were forced to center their thoughts and lives around the slave master. By instead focusing on their own desires, the desire to have fun, relax, and dance no matter the consequences, the enslaved people were resisting that subjugation.
APA Citation: Federal Writers’ Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 4, Georgia, Part 2, Garey-Jones. 1936. Manuscript/Mixed Material.