In episode 007 of Her Voice Echoes we hear about the teenage years of Harriet Jacobs, a woman born into slavery in 1813 in Edenton, NC. Harriet was enslaved for 27 years, eventually escaping to the North, where in 1861 she published a book called, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” Episode 007 includes chapters 9-11 of that book. In these chapters, Harriet talks about Dr. Flint’s continued sexual pursuit and coercion that culminates in Harriet making a difficult decision that will change the course of her life. She also describes the brutality of other enslavers in the neighborhood, including a Mrs. Wade who is an expert with the whip and other tools for brutalization and forcing of submission. All of these people are deemed good Christians by white society.
The book is an autobiographical novel written to appeal to the white women of the North. It combines the genres of slave narrative and sentimental novel and focuses on the themes of family, motherhood, chastity and sexual oppression. It was considered bold and indelicate at the time it was written. Harriet doesn’t dance around the topic of white men abusing black women. It was initially published as a serialized novel in a newspaper and then published as a book in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent.
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