Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
A New Nation

Life Stories - Slave Narratives

Life Stories - Slave Narratives
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.36

     challenging words:    abolition, Descendents, kidnappers, mainly, reading, colonial, slavery, autobiography, ethnic, gain, freedom, literary, during, allow, although, slave
     content words:    African Americans, Olaudah Equiano, African American, Interesting Narrative, Gustavus Vassa, Both Olaudah

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Life Stories - Slave Narratives
By Sharon Fabian

1     We can learn a lot by reading about our ancestors. People of many ethnic groups enjoy learning about their ancestors and the countries from which they came. Whether they came from Ireland or Germany or Spain, the life stories of these immigrants make interesting reading. Americans today enjoy learning about ancestors who lived and worked in America during colonial times.
2     African Americans were one group of Americans who did not have access to such stories for a long time. Their ancestors, who were brought to America as slaves, often could not write and publish their life stories like immigrants from European countries did. This is why their stories were passed down mainly by word of mouth.
3     Olaudah Equiano was a slave in America who had the unusual opportunities to learn to read and write and also to earn money. He used the money to buy his freedom. He used his literary skills to write an autobiography that told the story of many African American ancestors. His story was one of the first slave narratives published in English. It gave people a picture of what it was like to be kidnapped into slavery, something that they hadn't read before. Although his name is not a famous one today, at the time his book was published it became a best seller. Many people were interested in reading what he had to say.

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