Remembering the past: Celebrating freedom

By Jill C. Hindman
February 15, 2001

Slavery is a common word that we all have heard and have some general knowledge about.

If you were to look it up in the dictionary it would read, “the state of one bound in servitude as property of a slaveholder or household. The practice of owning slaves. A mode of production in which slaves constitute the principal work force. The condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence. A condition of hard work and subjection” (The American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd edition).

This is the definition of slavery by text, not reality.

February is celebrated as Black History Month.

Senior Paula Amegbe reflects on her thoughts of slavery.

“Slavery was a very unfortunate event that occurred in our history. It does not only affect me because I am a woman or even African, but because I am a human being. Taking away an individual’s family, freedom and even dignity for the means of labor should never have taken place. No one has the right to hinder anyone from becoming the person that God intended them to be for their own personal gain.”

The fact that any child can go to school and be granted the gift of knowledge is something that we do not give a second thought to. Any slave would have welcomed the chance to learn how to read, yet they were denied.

When one is subjected to such harsh conditions do they not question why they are here on this earth?

Do they not question their god?

You would assume that one would be compelled to drown in a pond of self-pity, but these men and women who lived as slaves fought for their freedom.

They fought for the things that we take for granted every day.

The things that we cannot touch are the greatest possessions of all. Those of which that are not tangible we hold closest to our heart. Freedom is one of these things.

In an Address to the Slaves of the United States of America, Henry Highland Garnett wrote, “SLAVERY! How much misery is comprehended in that single word. What mind is there that does not shrink from its direful effects? Unless the image of God be obliterated from the soul, all men cherish the love of liberty.”


We have a statue that represents that very word in our country. It means so much more to some than it does to others. There are those of us who have ancestors that had to fight for our liberty and then there are those of us who have always had freedom dating back to our oldest ancestors.

We will never be able to fully grasp the reality of slavery. None of us will ever know what it was like to work on a cotton field, or be driven on a plantation.

We will never know what it is like to be whipped because we asked a question.

We will not have to ever worry about being split up from our families and never see them again.

We live in a land that grants freedom to all of its citizens.

Harriet Tubman said it best. “There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive.”

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Jill C. Hindman

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