Textbook: None. Selected writings found online will constitute the textbook.
Read the following information on Nat Turner. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) Nat Turner was not formally educated. Was Nat any less intelligent because of that?
(2) What did Nat do when he faced "the temptation of success within the system?" Are present day Blacks likely to respond in a similar manner? Why or why not?
(3) "Nat rejected the solution of individual escape." What is the relevance of that, and what does it mean to Black individuals in general?
(4) Nat was a religious man, a preacher. In your opinion, how does Nat's perception of religion compare to that of present-day Blacks?
(5) Nat was not a violent man, yet he resigned himself to the fact that violence was necessary if Black People were to free themselves. In light of the emphasis on non-violence nowadays, do you think Black People have been programmed to be against violence in order to keep Blacks incapable of effectively fighting against white power?
Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800 into a human hell called slavery. His mother, an Afrikan born slave, did not like the idea of bringing another slave into the world. She was so mad when Nat was born that she had to be tied up to keep from murdering him.
Early in life Nat began to think that God had set him aside for a great purpose. His unexplained insight, his uncommon intelligence and his restless, inquisitive and observant mind marked Nat as a man of distinction wherever he went. Because of these characteristics, it was remarked that Nat would never be of any service to anyone as a slave.
Nat was a very religious man. His mind, he once stated, was principally occupied with religious sentiments. All of his free time was spent in prayer or some strong activity that bred an air of mystery about him. "It is notorious that he was never known to have a dollar in his life, to swear an oath, or drink a drop of spirits" nor use tobacco. Yet, he made an impression on United States history that no Black or white person can forget. Nat organized and led the most successful and bloodiest slave revolt America has ever known.
Nat Turner grew up in Southampton County, Virginia, near the county seat of Jerusalem. He "came to maturity in this community. He married a Black slave woman and became a father. He also went through the usual temptations, the temptation of doubt-- the gnawing doubt of oneself, of one's people-- the temptation of despair, the tendency to say, 'What's the use, why bother, there's no way out,' and the greatest temptation of all, the temptation of success within the system. By keeping his mouth shut and saying yes at the right time, Nat Turner could have become a driver or an overseer. He could have whipped other slaves. He could have become the slave in charge, and white people could have used him to justify the system. But Nat had too much integrity for this crap." Nat knew that his personal well being was of the least importance.
When Nat was young his parents had taught him how to read. He was therefore able to study the bible himself, and Nat's version of the bible differed from the version the white missionaries taught the slaves. The more Nat read the bible, the more he became convinced that he was destined to lead his people out of slavery. When he realized this would necessitate the shedding of blood, Nat ran to the wilderness because he was not a violent man. "It was here that Nat overcame his last temptation-- the temptation to escape to the free colonies of Canada. But individual escape was a personal solution and the spirit called Nat to a collective solution." Nat rejected the solution of individual escape.
The collective solution was put into effect by Nat, who was now thirty, and six other Black men. They decided to strike a blow against slavery, beginning at the house of Nat's master and proceeding from house to house, killing every man, woman and child as they went. This, they hoped, would cause terror among the whites and start a general slave rebellion in Virginia that would end with the capture of the state. In the event of failure, the slaves were to retreat to the swamp and fight a guerilla war against the whites.
Soon after the rebellion had begun, some 60 whites had been killed. When the first bodies were discovered, a dread seized the white citizenry. It took the military to subdue the rebellers. But it was too late. Nat Turner's rebellion led to other rebellions throughout the South and created a subconscious fear in the nation which breaks into the open even today anytime Black People implement an independent solution to eliminating the slave like conditions that afflict Us today.
In life and in death Nat Turner was/is an excellent example of Black manhood and self determination. He is an example of dedication to a revolutionary cause, a dedication that outweighs personal considerations. Nat is an example of the selfless concern that is necessary if Black People are to make strides toward nationhood. Nat is one of THE People. Nat Turner is a Profile in Black.