8 Inhumane and Barbaric Forms of Torture Used on Enslaved Black People

The Middle Ages left a lasting legacy on Europeans. Amidst the constant deaths from the bubonic plague and warring fiefdoms, torture was used to carry out justice and weed out social misfits. Beheadings, burning women and religious deviants by the stake or subjecting people to harsher forms of torture — like impalement — are only a few examples of the violence inflicted.

Unfortunately, torture was transported to the Americas and used as a tool to dominate and control enslaved Black people. Some of these awful and inhumane forms of punishment have been documented in slave narratives.

For instance, runaway enslaved people would endure the “cotton screw.” This item usually meant to pack cotton was described in great detail in the “Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper, from American Slavery.” The person would be tied to a long rope attached to a pole. On the other side would be a horse that would pull the person nearly 10 feet off the ground. This latest Atlanta Black Star original explores other startling tools of torture inflicted on Black people.

Back to top