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Her Refusal to Be Recast(e): Annie Burton's Narrative of Resistance

Her Refusal to Be Recast(e): Annie Burton's Narrative of Resistance Her Refusal to Be Recast(e): Annie Burton’s Narrative of Resistance by Yolanda Pierce Annie L. Burton’s 1909 autobiography, Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days, is the postbellum slave autobiography of an “ordinary” black woman, who refuses to be re-enslaved in either word or in deed. In her simply written narrative, she offers extraordinary resistance to the emerging racial caste system of Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction America. While her text begins with reminiscences about her childhood in chattel bondage, at the heart of her work is the power struggle be- tween black women domestic workers and their white female employ- ers. The story of her voyage from slavery in Clayton, Alabama, to do- mestic work in the industrial North, and fi nally to business-ownership in Jacksonville, Florida, charts the powerful economic and social forces that attempted to re-inscribe a system of slavery onto the fi rst generation of nominally freed African Americans. Burton’s refusal to participate in this reinstatement of her slave condition challenged the pervasive image of black woman as “mammy,” that is, the faithful, obedient domestic servant. Burton’s Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days details not only one woman’s quest from slavery to physical freedom but also her journey from a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Her Refusal to Be Recast(e): Annie Burton's Narrative of Resistance

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 36 (2) – May 19, 2004

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Her Refusal to Be Recast(e): Annie Burton’s Narrative of Resistance by Yolanda Pierce Annie L. Burton’s 1909 autobiography, Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days, is the postbellum slave autobiography of an “ordinary” black woman, who refuses to be re-enslaved in either word or in deed. In her simply written narrative, she offers extraordinary resistance to the emerging racial caste system of Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction America. While her text begins with reminiscences about her childhood in chattel bondage, at the heart of her work is the power struggle be- tween black women domestic workers and their white female employ- ers. The story of her voyage from slavery in Clayton, Alabama, to do- mestic work in the industrial North, and fi nally to business-ownership in Jacksonville, Florida, charts the powerful economic and social forces that attempted to re-inscribe a system of slavery onto the fi rst generation of nominally freed African Americans. Burton’s refusal to participate in this reinstatement of her slave condition challenged the pervasive image of black woman as “mammy,” that is, the faithful, obedient domestic servant. Burton’s Memories of Childhood’s Slavery Days details not only one woman’s quest from slavery to physical freedom but also her journey from a

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 19, 2004

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