|| A LEARNING MOMENT ||
Nat Turner . . .
'And about this time I had a vision — and I saw white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle, and the sun was darkened – the thunder rolled in the Heavens, and blood flowed in streams – and I heard a voice saying, "Such is your luck, such you are called to see, and let it come rough or smooth, you must surely bear it."'
Nat Turner, leader of
1831 Slave Rebellion in
It was on this day -- August 21 -- in 1831, that Nat Turner led slaves and free Blacks in an insurrection in Southampton, Virginia.
Turner was noted as intelligent as a child, and his grandmother told him he was destined for greatness. He was extremely religious regularly reading The Bible, praying and fasting from a very young age. Additionally he had visions, causing him to be called "Prophet" by fellow slaves.
At 22 he successfully ran away, but returned on his own a month later… saying that he was spiritually induced to do so.
In 1828, he said that he saw a vision that he interpreted as indication that he was to lead his fellow slaves in an insurrection, a bloody one.
Three years later, in 1831, he saw a celestial event that he interpreted as a signal that the time had come, and in February that year he began to lay plans for the now legendary Slave Rebellion.
More than 60 White men, women, and children were killed by the slaves and free Blacks following Turner. But Turner acted more leader than soldier, only killing one person -- Martha Whitehead.
"It was agreed that we should commence at home, on that night, and, until we had armed and equipped ourselves and gained sufficient force, neither age nor sex was to be spared: which was invariably adhered to," Turner explained in his confession. Once they had gathered enough guns and ammunition, he said, the only Whites they would kill would be men.
And let's be clear -- Nat and his men didn't only prey on the weak. They faced the White militia and fought valiantly!
Turner's men were coming out of a house on a plantation when they came face-to-face with a group of about 80 armed Whites. Turner's men numbered 60.
Neither side did anything at first, but then one of the Whites fired a volley. When it was answered by a return volley by Turner's men, the Whites turned their horses and ran.
After encountering the armed and organized White militia, the once-fleeing group of White men led the way back to Turner's location. And a battle ensued.
The insurrection lasted two days, but was eventually put down by experienced and organized White militia.
Turner, however, managed to escape.
But two months later he was discovered by two slaves who alerted Whites to his location.
Turner went on the run to avoid capture, but was unable to elude the men and dogs on his trail. On October 30, he was captured.
And, so, on November 11, 1831, Nat Turner was hanged. His body was flayed and beheaded. He was then buried in an unmarked grave in an unknown location.
After his death, Turner's young wife was viciously tortured and whipped in an attempt to make her reveal where he kept his papers. She likely died under the lash. No papers were ever found.
All together, thirty slaves and one free Black man were condemned to death, but 12 of the slaves were pardoned by the governor -- at the request of owners who wanted their slaves back to work on plantations. So only 19 of the condemned were hanged.
There were also hundreds of non-involved slaves and free Blacks murdered by the still angry White militia. Their vengeful rampage went on for months.
Turner and his followers did not succeed in ending slavery, or even ending their own captivity . . . but they are still heroes.
Please, on this day if no other, honor them as such.
Ibaiye, Baba Nat Turner. Your bravery and your demonstrated love for our people shall never be forgotten.
Ibaiye all who followed Baba Nat Turner and were killed for doing so. Your sacrifice shall always propel me on.