History January 09, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Made to sleep on the floor, getting whipped – Ex-slaves first hand account of their ordeal

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

Michael Eli Dokosi January 09, 2020 at 12:30 pm

January 09, 2020 at 12:30 pm | History

circa 1910: Three Abyssinian slaves in iron collars and chains. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The ordeal enslaved Africans went through is told by people who perhaps had knowledge of the happenings, but we get a rare glimpse into what life was like for an enslaved from his of her own experience and account.

Thanks to the unstrippedvoice.com, we see how upon the end of slavery in the United States in 1865, enslaved Black Americans were set loose by their former masters or slave holders and their chilling accounts.

John Henry Folk, a graduate student, interviewed former slaves and before his death in 1979, stated how he believed in giving Blacks rights to go to school and right to do anything they qualified for.

One elderly man could be heard saying he had been a slave all his life as has been his mother, father and sister.

Another woman submitted, “all I know they teach you is mind your master and missus.”

The indignity of slavery was such that upon gaining freedom; “momma and them (others) didn’t know where to go after freedom broke,” a woman noted. For years, the enslaved had a monotonous schedule of undertaking specific tasks, barred from even reading books for fear of a revolt.

According to Fountain Hughes, who was 101 at the time of speaking, he was born in Charleston adding, “my grandfather belonged to Thomas Jefferson. He was 150 when he died.”

Another freed slave stated colored people didn’t have beds during slavery. “We always slept on the floor, pallet here and a pallet there,” he said.

Ensuring that the enslaved didn’t become knowledgeable, a free slave noted “we didn’t know nothing. Didn’t allow you to look at no book.”

Harriet Smith recalls as a little girl seeing the last stages of the civil war. “We saw colored soldiers in droves.”

The recording of the enslaved were done in the 1930s and 1940s depicting the actual voices on plantations from the old south.

Stanton Hughes born in 1848 also states “we were slaves; they sold us to people like you would sell horses, hogs.”

Hughes talks about the relentless work he had to do on a Virginia plantation.

There is also a 91-year-old Lorace Molly, who in the 1940s, recalls a tussle between a black enslaved woman and a white mistress. When the mistress tried slapping the elderly black woman, she pushed her into a chair. Despite just being as a child when the incident happened, Molly recalls the whipping given the enslaved upon the return of the woman’s husband.

“They take that ol’woman, poor ol’woman, carried her in the peach orchard and whipped her. You know she couldn’t do nothing but just kick her feet. They had her clothes down to her waist,” she adds.

With the advent of the cotton gin, the processing of cotton became efficient. However, the plantation owners still needed the blacks with the skill to harvest, so they enacted laws to control the movement of the slaves where a master had to give a pass to his slave when undertaking errand.

In Texas, even when the civil war ended, the enslaved were not told so were held captive for two more months being freed with no home and property despite being the engine which generated wealth for the white men.

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