Short Stories About Slavery

“Caramelle 1864” by Jewelle Gomez

The narrator and her father live on a New England farm. Their place is a rest stop for people fleeing slavery in the south. Years earlier, the father, Solomon, fled slavery. He scans the road for the sign. They’re getting visitors tonight, whom they refer to as Cousins. They’ve heard lots of stories of what their guests have been through.

This story can be read in the preview of Black from the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Fiction(12% in)

“The Cruel Redeemer Lazarus Morell” by Jorge Luis Borges

Lazarus Morell was an evil man who worked near the Mississippi river. He was one of the poor whites during the days of slavery, but he was proud of his “untainted” blood. He engaged in various unethical schemes, but one in particular was shocking in its cruelty.

This story can be read in the preview of Collected Fictions(Pg 6)

“A Dream of Waking” by Sam Best

A waking cycle begins and Jacob hears the screams. He can tell there’s light, even though his eyes are sewn shut. He’s disoriented at first, but then the details come back to him. He’s lying in an enclosed half-cylinder with tubing in his skull.

This story can be read in the preview of The Future Chronicles(22% in)

“The Witness” by Katherine Anne Porter

Uncle Jimbilly works with his hands, doing odd repair jobs and making small carvings. He tells the young people about the days of slavery.

“The Beginning of Homewood” by John Edgar Wideman

The narrator is writing a letter to his brother to tell him the story of his great-great-great-grandmother Sybela Owens, who escaped from slavery. She ran off one night with her two children and her owner’s son, the father of her children, on a five-hundred-mile journey.

“Possum or Pig?” by Zora Neale Hurston

When pigs start going missing, suspicion falls on the house slave, John. The master makes a surprise visit one night to his cabin, to see what he’s cooking.

“An Outpost of Progress” by Joseph Conrad

Two Europeans man a trading post in the African jungle. They’re involved in ivory trading, but there’s very little real work to do. A local wants to trade slaves for ivory.

Read “An Outpost of Progress”

“Fever” by John Edgar Wideman

There is a yellow fever epidemic in late 18th century Philadelphia. Allen, an African-American, chooses to stay in the city to help Dr. Rush find a cure and treat the victims. Popular opinion among the white population is that the disease was brought to the city by black slaves.

Read “Fever”