In the article “When I Can Read My Title Clear,” Cornelius discusses how slaves had the desire to learn to read and write but were punished when their owners found out. They had to be extremely secretive about learning to read and write because the punishments were extremely severe. For example, Henry Wright’s father learned to read with the help of his master’s son, which he was told to keep to himself, because if the white men in the community found out one of the slaves could read and write, they would cut his fingers off. These severe punishments instilled fear in many, but also promoted secretive learning among those whose “sympathetic owners” allowed them to learn.
My question regarding this reading is why do you think slave owners were so afraid of the slaves learning to read and write? From what we have discussed in class, reading and writing seems to be a positive thing; it is something that promotes mental growth and forward, critical thinking. It is an outlet for us to release our deepest thoughts and calm the mind. Do you think the answer to this question revolves around power? Equal rights? Or do you think it is something broader or more personal than that?