Slavery At Mount Vernon

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Why Did George Washington Have Slaves?

Slavery At Mount Vernon
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Deep River performed by Brenda Parker #shorts

2,177 views July 16, 2021
Recorded by Paul Robeson (Athlete, Singer, Actor, Lawyer, Activist) Performed by Brenda Parker (Character Interpreter & African American Special Programs Coordinator) This song speaks to the promise of heaven as a place of rest. Heaven, here, is referred to as the “campground” just beyond the River Jordan. The River Jordan is often used as a location of ancestral connection, a place to return to one’s homeland. The verses invite the listener to join in a “great gospel feast.” Classified by some as a song of sorrow, it still has notes of encouragement. African American spirituals and hymns are a vital part of American history and culture. These songs, many with undocumented origins and authors, did not begin to be collected until after the Civil War. Used to communicate and tell stories of tribulations and triumphs, they helped the enslaved endure lives of bondage. Spirituals had religious origins, often containing messages of hope or heavenly rewards. Once "freed” however, many of these same songs would evolve into gospel, blues, R&B, jazz, hip hop, rap, and other genres we enjoy today. There is no documentation of these spirituals being sung at Mount Vernon, but music was surely shared among the generations of people held in bondage here. Learn more about the lives of the enslaved at Mount Vernon here:
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