Along the way, he intended to recruit fellow enslaved people and was willing to kill anyone who dared to stop them.
And to invoke the spirit of the American Revolution, as well as to call out the hypocrisy of American revolutionaries who refused to abolish slavery, he planned to carry a banner that read “Death or Liberty.” But Gabriel’s bold bid to secure his freedom and spark a rebellion that would spread throughout the slaveholding South ended before it could really begin.
Teachers have to talk about how enslaved people tried to minimize the amount of energy they expended toiling in fields by slowing the pace of work, feigning illness, breaking farming implements, injuring animals and sabotaging crops.
And how they took for themselves life’s essentials, from food to clothing, which they consumed, shared, traded and sold.
As long as slavery existed, African Americans resisted.
Teaching resistance effectively requires focusing on more than a handful of highly visible and extremely dramatic attempts to secure freedom. Uprisings make clear that African Americans who engaged in rebellion opposed slavery.
A torrential rain the night of the insurrection delayed the blacksmith’s plans just long enough for the plot to be revealed by a pair of enslaved turncoats.
For this project on how slavery is taught, The Washington Post interviewed more than 100 students, teachers, administrators and historians throughout the country and sat in on middle school and high school history classes in Birmingham, Ala.; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Germantown, Md.; Concord, Mass.; Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Washington, D. Gabriel and 26 others would eventually be executed.
Enslaved people formed families whenever possible, marrying, bearing children and keeping those children with them as long as possible.
They also held onto African cultural traditions, such as religious worship practices, which remain visible today among their descendants.