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Monday, October 15, 2012

A Slave Narrative: 121-Year-Old Sarah Gudger

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Sarah Gudger
Here's an excerpt from Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1938, which contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.

Here's Sarah Gudger, Age 121 speaking:

I 'membahs de time when mah mammy wah alive, I wah a small chile, afoah dey tuck huh t' Rims Crick. All us chillens wah playin' in de ya'd one night. Jes' arunnin' an' aplayin' lak chillun will. All a sudden mammy cum to de do' all a'sited. "Cum in heah dis minnit," she say. "Jes look up at what is ahappenin'," and bless yo' life, honey, da sta's wah fallin' jes' lak rain.* Mammy wah tebble skeered, but we chillen wa'nt afeard, no, we wa'nt afeard. But mammy she say evah time a sta' fall, somebuddy gonna die. Look lak lotta folks gonna die f'om de looks ob dem sta's. Ebbathin' wah jes' as bright as day. Yo' cudda pick a pin up. Yo' know de sta's don' shine as bright as dey did back den. I wondah wy dey don'. Dey jes' don' shine as bright. Wa'nt long afoah dey took mah mammy away, and I wah lef' alone.

*(One of the most spectacular meteoric showers on record, visible all over North America, occurred in 1833.)


The Slave Auction
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

The sale began—young girls were there,  
   Defenseless in their wretchedness,
Whose stifled sobs of deep despair  
   Revealed their anguish and distress.

And mothers stood, with streaming eyes,
   And saw their dearest children sold;
Unheeded rose their bitter cries,
   While tyrants bartered them for gold.

And woman, with her love and truth—
   For these in sable forms may dwell—
Gazed on the husband of her youth,
   With anguish none may paint or tell.

And men, whose sole crime was their hue,
   The impress of their Maker’s hand,
And frail and shrinking children too,
   Were gathered in that mournful band.

Ye who have laid your loved to rest,
   And wept above their lifeless clay,
Know not the anguish of that breast,
   Whose loved are rudely torn away.

Ye may not know how desolate
   Are bosoms rudely forced to part,
And how a dull and heavy weight
   Will press the life-drops from the heart.



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Becky Stone brings the voice of former slave Sarah Gudger to life from the
Federal Writers Project Slave Narratives of 1937. Listen as she describes her personal experiences with her family, owners, slave speculators, the Civil War, thoughts on emancipation, and what life was like as a slave in Buncombe County.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoIreNPkReM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHx-fraJlns

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Oh.....Wow, and WOW!! This is spectacular and amazing. Thank you so much, whoever you are for bringing my attention to this. I will defintely post these very well done videos on Cappuccino Soul, as soon as possible.

Again, THANK YOU!!!!

Kevin Barbieux said...

Shared your post on Facebook.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Thanks Kevin!!