In the face of extreme punishment for enslaved people and breaking the law for whites, roughly 5 percent of the enslaved population learned to read and write. Letters like the ones written below show the lengths they would go to learn.
Why do we dance? African-American social dances started as a way for enslaved Africans to keep cultural traditions alive and retain a sense of inner freedom. They remain an affirmation of identity and independence. In this electric demonstration, packed with live performances, choreographer, educator and TED Fellow Camille A. Brown explores what happens when communities let loose and express themselves by dancing together.
This advertisement, published in the Southwestern Christian Advocate in 1883, was included in the "Lost Friends" section of the newspaper. Advertisements like this were published after emancipation by African Americans seeking their relatives. Families of enslaved people were often separated during enslavement. Here, S. L. Jones searches for his or her relatives.