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Solomon Northup : I did as instructed. If there's something wrong, it's wrong with the instructions! Tibeats : You black bastard.


Nigga I Was Running

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Growing out of the rise of slave patrols in the slave-owning southern United States, the song is about and follows an unnamed black man who attempts to run from a slave patrol and avoid capture. This folk song was released as a commercial recording several times, beginning in the s, and it was included in the film 12 Years a Slave. In the mid-nineteenth century, black slaves were not allowed off their masters' plantations without a pass, for fear that they would rise against their white owners; such uprisings had occurred before, such as the one led by Nat Turner in However, it remained common for slaves to slip away from the plantations to visit friends elsewhere. If caught, running from the slave patrols was considered better than attempting to explain oneself and facing the whip.

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File:run, nigger, run lyrics (slave songs of the united states version).png

Australia and New Zealand. Run Nigger Run. The lyrics describe an enslaved person who emancipates himself by running to freedom. As an African American folk song, the lyrics were often interpreted as empowering enslaved peoples to exercise their agency by fleeing their confines and spread knowledge about the dangers that may lie ahead if they try to escape slavery.

In the late s, the song began to appear on the American minstrelsy circuit, where it was re-interpreted by Euro-American performers. New lyrics occasionally cast the African American protagonist as criminal and incorporated the perspective of plantation owners.

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With the advent of recording technology, these versions soon reached mass audiences through radio play. Despite these developments, the original versions were simultaneously maintained among African American folk performers. Throughout the twentieth century, musicians performed multiple versions of this song. As time progressed, pressure mounted to change the title and lyrics so that the N-word was eliminated.

The version featured here, performed by the Virginia Mountain Boys, is the only version in our collection that retains the N-word in the title and lyrics. While we have no knowledge of the views or intentions of the musicians on this recording, we feel that the word—even considering this historical context—continues to contribute to discrimination and violence against black communities in the United States.

Thus, while we leave it on our website so as not to erase this history, we have made it impossible to listen to it out of context by buying the track or streaming it alone. For our policy on controversial recordings, please see our Frequently Asked Questions .

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Year Released Duration Country s United States. Culture Group s Anglo-American. Click to .

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