Records on treatment of slaves are kept at the United States Library of Congress. During the period of 1936-1938, the Works Progress Administration launched the, Federal Writers Project. Writers were sent to travel the entire United States collecting narratives from former slaves.
The Federal Writers Project includes over 2,300 first-person recollections of slavery and became known as the, Slave Narratives, and can be accessed via the following link: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html
Or researched directly at the following link: www.loc.gov/
Slavery ended in 1865 so if you were a 17 year old slave in 1865, you would have been at the peak of your enslavement, the most highly valued “commodity” at that age and you would have been about 88 years old at the time the Federal Writers Project was launched.
Historically, one was born into slavery, serving as entertainers and/or toys for little White children from as young as thoughts could recall.
According to some narrative’s, slaves were sold at an auction like cars or the way one would purchase items on e-bay today.
In honor of Black History Month, we reflect on such horrific events to both mourn and heal for our ancestors who endured such treatment.
A video included in this article is a short rendition of what it was like to be bought and sold. Accounts are re-enactments based on former slave stories shared with the writers who journeyed the USA to capture the stories from word of mouth.
We mourn our early ancestors during Black History Month and forever more. There is no greater strength than that of the love it takes in rising out of such horrifying experience.
There is no greater struggle than that of the tyranny of oppression attempting to stagnate progress in every aspect constantly without relief year after year since these historical times; Oppression in aspects of beauty, intelligence, human rights, etc.
Amidst all of these obstacles, a people continue to rise. In honor of the constant push toward a better tomorrow, Maya Angelou’s poem is shared:
Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
-Library of Congress
-Poem Hunter.com (I Rise By: Maya Angelou)