BLACK HISTORY MONTH: BLACK HEROINES, PART 11: AMY SPAIN: THE UNKNOWN BLACK WOMAN

Her long night of slavery was about to end,and her joy overcame her efforts to suppress it. That cry of joy was enough to seal her fate: for this, she was condemned to die. . . .
 
 

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The history of Black women remains shrouded in obscurity and ignorance. What little there is that is known of Black women’s heroic efforts to combat enslavement is still largely very little written about.

 

As Gerda Lerner emphasized in her book Black Women in White America,  “History, in the past largely written by white male historians, has simply failed to ask those questions which would elicit information about female contribution, the female point of view. . . [‘Black women’s] records lie buried, unread, infrequently noticed and even more seldom interpreted.”

 

Just as that is true, so is the lost and unknown contribution that Amy Spain made in the history of Black women’s resistance against racist oppression and sexist tyranny. Here, in an article that miraculously resurfaced some years ago from the press of that time, after more than a century of having the waves of indifference wash over it, is the story of Amy Spain:

 

 

 

 

   

   

View of Darlington Court-House and the sycamore-tree where Amy Spain, the negro slave, was hung by the citizens of Darlington, South Carolina

 
 
AMY SPAIN
 
One of the martyrs of the cause which gave freedom to her race was that of a colored woman named Amy Spain, who was a resident of the town of Darlington, situated in a rich cotton-growing district of South Carolina. At the time a portion of the Union army occupied the town of Darlington she expressed her satisfaction by clasping her hands and exclaiming, “Bless the Lord the Yankees have come!” She could not restrain her emotions. The long night of darkness which had bound her in slavery was about to break away. It was impossible to repress the exuberance of her feelings; and although powerless to aid the advancing deliverers of her caste, or to injure her oppressors, the simple expression of satisfaction at the event sealed her doom. Amy Spain died in the cause of freedom.  A section of Sherman’s cavalry occupied the town, and without doing any damage passed through. Not an insult nor an unkind word was said to any of the women of that town. The men had, with guilty consciences, fled; but on their return, with their traditional chivalry, they seized upon poor Army, and ignominiously hung her to a sycamore-tree standing in front of the court-house, underneath which stood the block from which was monthly exhibited the slave chattels that were struck down by the auctioneer’s hammer to the highest bidder.Amy Spain heroically heard her sentence, and from her prison bars declared she was prepared to die. She defied her persecutors; and as she ascended the scaffold declared she was going to a place where she would receive a crown of glory. She was rudely interrupted by an oath from one of her executioners. To the eternal disgrace of Darlington her execution was acquiesced in and witnessed by most of the citizens of the town. Amy was launched into eternity, and the “chivalric Southern gentlemen” of Darlington had fully established their bravery by making war upon a defenseless African woman. She sleeps quietly, with others of her race, near the beautiful village. No memorial marks her grave, but after-ages will remember this martyr of liberty. Her persecutors will pass away and be forgotten, but Amy Spain’s name is now hallowed among the Africans, who, emancipated and free, dare, with the starry folds of the flag of the free floating over them, speak her name with holy reverence.

 
 
 
Amy desired to be free, and not anything could stop her.
 
The enslavers may have destroyed Amy’s body by murdering her with death by hanging, but they could never destroy her spirit or thirst for freedom—-freedom that so many millions of Black women fought for in many ways we will never know.
 
REFERENCES:
 
“In Praise of Black Women: Black Heroines of the Slavery Era,” by Simone Schwarz-Bart.
1.
In Praise of Black Women, Volume 2: Heroines of the Slavery Era by Simone Schwarz-Bart, Andrem Schwarz-Bart, Rose-Myriam Rejouis, and Val Vinokurov (Hardcover – Dec 2002)
5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “BLACK HISTORY MONTH: BLACK HEROINES, PART 11: AMY SPAIN: THE UNKNOWN BLACK WOMAN

  1. Pingback: THE MAMMY STATUE, THE GOOD DARKY, AND OTHER TESTAMENTS OF THE INSULTS TO BLACK HUMANITY « BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

  2. LILLIE M. EVANS

    I REALLY ENJOY THE STORY OF MS. AMY SPAIN. SHE WAS GREAT, BOLD AND BRAVE WOMAN TO EVEN SAY THOSE WORDS OUT LOUD. I WAS BORN AND RASIED IN DARLINGTON COUNTY AND I’M A SHAME TO NOT KNOW ABOUT HER UNTIL RECENTLY. I THANK HARPER’S WEEKLY (AND THIS BLOGS OWNER) THE GREAT OPPORUNITY TO READ ABIOUT SUCH A GREAT LADY.

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