Br’er Rabbit is short for “Brother Rabbit”. He’s a rabbit who sometimes tricks people and sometimes gets tricked. Br’er Rabbit is a lot like like the African Anansi the Spider. He’s also like the rabbit in earlier Creek and Cherokee stories. Some of his stories may go back to much earlier Buddhist Jataka Tales from India, or even further.
In West Africa and Central Africa, where many of these African-Americans came from, the same kind of stories are sometimes about rabbits. Probably the Br’er Rabbit stories came from mixing of these two earlier kinds of stories in the 1800s AD. Many African people were working as slaves planting rice and picking cotton in Georgia and Louisiana, and they met Cherokee people there. So the stories mixed together.
By 1845, Cherokee people had printed the Tar Baby story in their newspaper. White children learned these stories too, and liked them, and by the 1880s white people began to write down Br’er Rabbit stories and get them printed in English and French books.