What Is Tolerably Black?
Encountering a runaway slave ad used on the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ website sparked a desire in me to know more about the individual stories, lives, and relationships of people depicted in such ads.
During the over 300-year period that slavery existed in the U.S., between 40,000 and 100,000 enslaved people escaped from southern states, northward, via the Underground Railroad. Many were captured, re-enslaved, or hung for attempting to escape. One person that made it to freedom by running to Canada, was my great-great-great-great grandmother.
My family history makes me feel personally connected to all of their stories. Even though it can seem that the person escaping has been reduced to a brief descriptive ad placed in the local paper by their enslavers, I have found a way to honor and to dignify their lives by enlarging these ads, screen-printing them on 100% cotton, framing them, and presenting them to you.
The undercurrents of slavery’s existence still permeate all strata of American society today.
Tolerably Black was born in the hopes of sparking constructive, heartfelt dialog around our shared history, without shame, without hate and without guilt. Just truth. Our truth.