— Rosa Parks
Anna Julia Cooper in The Higher Education of Women (1890-1891)
When you identify with your ancestors sooo strongly that it’s a damn shame.
Slaves nonetheless had their own way of doing things, refusing to concede too much, sometimes refusing to concede at all. If the slave master’s interference in the slave’s personal life was interminable, so too was the slave’s resistance to this kind of intervention. Like their owners, slave attitudes and decisions about courtship and marriage were shaped by gender convention and community concerns, but not necessarily the same conventions or concerns. The matrifocality of many slave families, for example, meant that the realities of slave manhood and womanhood differed substantially within the context of family life from those whose familial experiences were nuclear and patriarchal. Likewise, extended families and slave communities were important, not just because they monitored slave behavior and maintained slave values, thereby protecting the integrity of the community. Members of slave communities also actually played substantial physical, material, and emotional roles in the lives of slaves. To a large extent, they were the slave’s family. The presence of meaningful kinship ties embodied in the extended family or community, therefore, allowed slaves to take on a variety of marital arrangements and familial structures. One’s master might have had the final authority, but there also were other slaves and slave institutions that exerted influence, perhaps more influence than masters realized. Within the broad contours of slave life that masters insisted on designing, slaves found spaces of their own, choosing what lines to and not to cross as they constructed their own domestic terrain."
— "Slave Marriage and Family Relations" in Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South (pdf)