African-Americans as they are now known as, were originally pulled from their homelands, disconnecting them from all that they once knew. One way to remember their ancestors and the ways that they were brought up was to keep their culture alive in this new land. It freed them from the daily torture from their masters, healed them from their ailments, as well as entertained themselves and the white families. African-Americans kept folktales, music, religion, and various spiritual practices alive while they were indentured here in the new lands.
Their African traditions gave them self-respect, hope, and a sense of community in their solitude (AP, 346). For almost two and a half centuries Africans-Americans were in servitude to their white oppressors. During this period, African cultures were slowly mixed with the English traditions, forming something new and distinctive (RTAP, 142). Many religious songs are still heard in black churches today, and various customs are still practiced (RTAP, 152). Even English-American traditions changed and adapted slightly to African cultural traditions.
Many slaves would entertain their owners children with folktales and songs, often white folklorists would come and record the evenings festivities (RTAP, 146). Famous childrens games such as Ring Around The Rosie originated from African games (RTAP, 152). Most of these folklores and songs have been found to originate from Africa (RTAP, 146). Much folklore told both in Africa and America, had the same purposes: entertainment, prevention of youth promiscuity, teaching cooperation values, and the behavior of animals.
Countless tales helped slaves cope with bondage, using characters to outwit heir masters and free themselves from servitude (RTAP, 148). Brer Rabbit was one such character (RTAP, 162), he tricked his enemy into throwing into the briar patch, The place where I was born, he would say (AP, 352). But the briar patch was filled with thorns and roots, was this a reference to Africa or to slavery in America or neither? The slave practice of teaching songs and folklore remained an oral tradition for many years, due to the ban on educating blacks (RTAP, 149). Some slave children were fortunate in the chance of being educated.
Many slave owners hildren would come home from their daily lessons and teach the slave children to read and write, while hiding in a remote part of the forest. Many slave owners thought that if they taught the slaves to read and write then the slaves would learn to think for themselves and maybe even rebel (RTAP, 163). Overall, without slavery and African traditions, America would be a dull replica of Europe. America altered food, music, religion, sexual restraint, and literature through learning the African culture. Slaves helped American settlers develop their own traditions and sense of independence (RTAP, 158).