Strategies for Survival conveys the experience of bondage through former enslaved people's own words. The source of this landmark content is a remarkable series of interviews conducted in Virginia in 1937 by WPA workers. Most of the interviewers were themselves Black; as a result, the subjects spoke with exceptional candor. William Dusinberre explores these interviews to re-create for the modern reader enslaved people's strategies for survival within the severe constrictions bondage imposed upon their lives. Religion and escape were the chief ways of coping with the indignity of family disruption, contempt, and the harsh realities of slavery. We see great creativity and variety in such responses to oppression, but we are forced to acknowledge the dispiriting realties of enslaved existence and the limits of enslaved people's resistance and agency.

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