Shining a Light on a Dark Time

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Shining a Light on a Dark Time
Witness Stones Project ’23

By William Matouk ’25

This year in humanities I have expanded on my knowledge of slavery through the readings and the Witness Stones Project. I have learned so much more on the reality of an enslaved person by reading documents, books, and articles about slavery. For example when we read To Be a Slave, I learned how enslaved people came to the U.S. and how they were treated when they were put into torture devices like iron shackles to make sure they wouldn’t escape. We learned that mothers sometimes killed their babies so they wouldn’t be sold. I learned about the struggles of an enslaved person by reading about an enslaved man named Before, most of our class assumed that the south were the “bad guys.” who owned slaves and were surprised to learn that people in the north owned slaves too.

It’s strange to sometimes believe that everywhere I walk, the ground under my feet has seen so much suffering. I know now that Nean’s story will stay with me because I can now tell anyone I met about his life.

Another thing we learned about was Frederick Douglass’ life. I learned about the difficulties he faced, such as being beaten for learning to read and write.

Learning about slavery had its challenges: sometimes, when I was reading the Bill of Sale Documents, it was difficult to read the old handwriting and understand the language they used. It was upsetting learning about the history of this country but I am also relieved that we’re learning about this and not keeping it in the dark. Overall, I’m glad that we are learning about the United States' history because if we don’t learn our history we could repeat the same mistakes.

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