Author(s): McLaurin, Melton Alonza
ISBN10: 0380803364 ISBN13: 9780380803361
List Price: $6.99
Weight: 0.20 lbs
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Celia was an ordinary slave--until she struck back at her abusive master and became the defendant in a landmark trial that threatened to undermine the very foundations of the South's "Peculiar Institution."
Much of African-American history in the Americas over the past four centuries is a recollection of stories from the years when African-Americans were utilized as slaves on the plantations of affluent, white farmers. One enthralling story of slavery and the struggles therein was written by a man named Melton A. McLaurin.
Released in 1993, Celia, A Slave was written as a true story of a young slave girl who broke some of the most unbreakable of the rules applied to slaves and encountered more abuse than most of her contemporaries. The work as a whole provides an accurate historical viewpoint of the time leading up to the civil war and some of the attitudes held by the characters paint a picture that was probably very similar to the portrait that reflects pre-war history in the deep South.
Celia was the name of a young female slave, who came to work for a prominent Missouri family called the Newsoms. The interesting thing about Celia and her story is that it recounts a tale of social strife and clearly indicates the fact that slaves were playing with a heavily stacked deck in relation to their Caucasian counterparts.
Within weeks of being bought by Robert Newsom, head of the Newsom household, Celia was exposed to some terrible treatment. In an effort to establish a precedent for later actions and to mark his property, Robert Newsom raped Celia and concealed the crime from public knowledge. Forced into a difficult situation where she was not able to speak out about the things that had happened to her, Celia was left with no options.
While on the Newsom plantation, Celia became romantically involved with another slave. Only after exhausting all other options, she revealed the crimes to her lover, who predictably became very distressed about the whole ordeal. As the rapes continued, Celia grew more restless until one night; she made a decision not to take it any more. When Robert Newsom entered her slave house to commit another terrible rape, Celia used a blunt stick to knock him unconscious and repeatedly beat him until he was dead.
She disposed of the body in the fire near her room. Knowing that her crimes would draw the ire of the white community, Celia fled the plantation, creating a situation where questions were asked of all of the other slaves.
Her boyfriend at the time was one of the first to be questioned. The situation with him is important because it shows the tactics that were used by whites against blacks at the time. While the legal system was intended to protect the black peoples against this type of activity, it was often manipulated by the white powers of the time.
He eventually cracked and gave up some information on the whereabouts of Celia, and she was eventually captured. Celia was provided with a lawyer, which was another important situation. A young hot shot with aspirations of protecting her, this lawyer was a good one for Celia. However, she was eventually sent to jail and after escaping, she was hung.
The story and plight of Celia is one that was common among the slaves of that time. She experienced both good and bad treatments from her white master, and had to react to the stigma that was associated with rape. Newsom family members resented her because of the fathers actions with her, and she was put into a no win situation by an overzealous master who was content on committing the same crime over and over.
The fact that he did not incur any sort of penalty prior to his death is a testament to the holes in the legal system of the day. The themes presented in this book are themes that were seen throughout all areas where slavery was common. They represent events where the system does not work, and are evidence to African-American struggle at the time.
Celia, a Slave: A True Story Reviewed by Eirini Pappa on 7:24:00 PM Rating: