Slave narratives: a folk history of slavery in the U. S. Interviews with former slaves.

By FDR’s Work Projects Administration

Reviewed by Fred Beauford

I just finished reading two books on interviews with former slaves from the famous FDR’s WPA, out of the dozens the project published. You can go to the Kindle store on amazon and download many for free.

So, what did I see in only two books?

First, almost all the plantations had a whipping pole in the large yard so all could see what was going on. Second, those slaves in the Upper South were deadly afraid of the slave driver that could come to the plantation and take them down “the river.”

The most feeling of grief for these poor folks was when a husband, a friend, or a mother, father, or young children, never to be seen again. I counted 7 women who birthed ten or more children, and did not know where anyone of them where after slavery.

Also, in both books, Mammy was real. According to these books, she was not to be messed with and would take on the whites as well as the blacks. This was now many generations of slavery. Mammy was now the one that raised the Master’s children. One even said, “I raised dem, and they better not give me no lip.”

Poor Uncle Tom could only hold his hat in his hands when he spoke to the Master and look down at his feet.

Also, both books said over and over, that the slaves would never snitch on each other. That was one rule that the slaves held on to. They were also stealing Master blind: a hog here, a cow there and all the watermelon you can eat.

Again, as I have said many times, slavery is not a long time ago. My mother and grandmother knew ex-slaves. I never met a ex-slave, but when I was born, there were still plenty of them still living.

But one thing I now believe is that blacks and whites are going to really come together in maybe another 100 years. Now, we are still stuck in slavery.

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