Echoes of Juneteenth: Gil Sams on the Constructs of Civil Society (VIDEO)

“At the bus station in Durham, North Carolina”, May 1940 by Jack Delano (Image: Wikipedia)

 

http://blip.tv/play/AYLDyBIC

Mr. Sams informs that over 6000 negro spirituals were written by Africans forced into slavery, and that many of those songs became mainstream, once the lyrics were changed to suit the plantation owners. “Oh Suzanna” is a very popular song in the US that children are often taught, which illustrates this. Originally that song, which now sings as a love ballad, was, in its former life, a liberation song for Africans with a desire to escape. It bore the title entitled “I’m On My Way To Canada” with lyrics that read as follows:

I’m On My Way To Canada

I’m on my way to Canada
That cold and dreary land
The sad effects of slavery
I can no longer stand
I’ve served my master all my days
Without a dime’s reward
And now I’m forced to run away
To flee the lash abroad

Farewell, old master, don’t think hard of me,
I’m on my way to Canada, were all the slaves are free

The hounds are baying on my track
Old master comes behind
Resolved that he will bring me back
Before I cross the line
I’m now embarked for yonder shore
Where a man’s a man by law
The iron horse will bear me o’er
To shake the lion’s paw

Or, righteous Father, will thou not pity me
And aid me on to Canada, where all the slaves are free

Oh, I heard Queen Victoria say
That if we would forsake
Our native land of slavery
And come across the lank
That she was standing on the shore
With arms extended wide
To give us all a peaceful home
Beyond the rolling tide

Farewell, old master, don’t think hard of me
I’m on my way to Canada, where all the slaves are free

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