Hi, Vienna here. I'm a Black singer, historian, storyteller and herbalist.
I sing early Black folk songs - Spirituals, work songs, prison blues and sea chanteys. I share buried and under-told stories of freedmen and of the enslaved during the antebellum era, their stories of bravery and resistance, of family and love, to show how We Freed Ourselves from slavery.
My work places Black people at the center of our own freedom stories, or as Toni Morrison says, outside the “white gaze.” This manifestation of self-determination is my theme and my quest. How did Black people free themselves from slavery? Those old songs tell those stories.
My research has also unearthed sparkling jewels of Black – of American – history that amply demonstrate this.
- For example, did you know that the Civil War could not have been won by the North without the United States Colored Troops (USCT)?
- The USCT and Harriet Tubman rescued nearly 800 folks from slavery while destroying important confederate supply lines in one fell swoop, during the Combahee River Raid (June 1, 1863).
- William Henry Singleton organized himself and another 1000 self-emancipated Black men in NC into the First North Caroline Colored Volunteers (USTC)
- Arnold Gragston crossed folks to freedom from KY to OH for three years before making a break for freedom himself.
- Black sailors, free and enslaved, were nearly 25% of all men working on the water in the 1820’s. They traveled the world, brought back freedom stories and were essential in the Underground Railroad.
Our freedom and resistance stories abound. They have been nearly erased out of American history. The question then, is not why didn’t we resist but rather, why has our resistance been so carefully hidden.
Well No More. We Freed Ourselves from slavery. And those others we’ve always heard about as being responsible for our freedom, they helped us. It’s the perspective that matters.
I am blessed to live in a time when others are also committed to this task. Come on, help us tell our true story:
My very best to you and may God’s Light shine upon you always.
With love, from Harlem to you.