The Invention of Wings

As the carriage neared the market, the noise mounted and the sidewalks began to overflow with Negroes and mulattoes. Sunday was the slaves’ only day off, and they thronged the thoroughfares—most were walking to their masters’ churches, required to show up and sit in the balconies—but even on regular days, the slaves dominated the streets, doing their owners’ bidding, shopping the market, delivering messages and invitations for teas and dinner parties. Some were hired out and trekked back and forth to work. Naturally, they nicked a little time to fraternize. You could see them gathered at street corners, wharves, and grog shops. The Charleston Mercury railed against the “unsupervised swarms” and called for regulations, but as Father said, as long as a slave possessed a pass or work badge, his presence was perfectly legitimate.

–          The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd



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