Go Down, Moses Criticism

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Discussion about "Go Down, Moses" often centers on the degree to which the song should be considered as a metaphor for the escape from slavery. Some historians believe that "Moses" in the song refers to Harriet Tubman, one of the leaders of the Underground Railroad, a group of abolitionists, both black and white, who formed a network of transportation and safe houses that assisted slaves in their escape from Southern plantations. This interpretation receives full treatment in Harriet Tub-man, The Moses of Her People by Sarah Bradford. In this reading,Egypt and the Pharaoh represent the plantation and the slave owner, and of course, the Israelites represent the African-American slaves themselves. Among those who agree with this interpretation are Bernard Katz, John Lovell, Irwin Silber, Russell Ames, and Earl Conrad. Conrad writes, "Negro slaves chanted thinly-disguised songs of protest set to the meter of spirituals [such as] 'Go...

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Poetry for Students
Go Down, Moses from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.