Till Freedom Cried Out: Memories of Texas Slave Life

Overview


"I's born in Palestine Texas. I don't know how old I is. I was 9 years old when freedom cried out."

These poignant words begin the memories of a former Texas slave interviewed by W.P.A. field workers in Oklahoma during the 1930s. This account, along with thirty-two additional oral histories recorded as part of the Federal Writers' Project, describes life as a Texas slave—the family relations, entertainment, religion, work on the plantations, foodways, and punishment.

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Overview


"I's born in Palestine Texas. I don't know how old I is. I was 9 years old when freedom cried out."

These poignant words begin the memories of a former Texas slave interviewed by W.P.A. field workers in Oklahoma during the 1930s. This account, along with thirty-two additional oral histories recorded as part of the Federal Writers' Project, describes life as a Texas slave—the family relations, entertainment, religion, work on the plantations, foodways, and punishment.

For decades the bondage of black slaves to white masters was part of everyday life in Texas, and by the eve of the Civil War almost one-third of the total population consisted of slaves.

Most works about slavery have been written from the white viewpoint, since most slaves were kept illiterate. This collection offers a clear-eyed perspective on this institution from the slaves themselves—their recollections from being sold away from their parents, suffering the pain of the overseers' lash, and being chosen to gratify masters' desires to finding emotional release in religious services, appreciating music and dancing, and enjoying an brief escape to the woods. Vignettes of daily life are sensitively brought to life in the skilled drawings of artist Kermit Oliver.

Enriched by these illustrations and by an introduction and postscript commentary by editors T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P.Baker, Till Freedom Cried Out presents vivid memories of lives and times inside the bonds of an institution that tried to break the tellers' bodies and souls.

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Editorial Reviews

Barry A. Crouch

“ . . . what makes this monograph so exciting and fascinating is that the authors have provided commentary upon the genesis of the interviews, who conducted them along with their color, and the editing process from which they emerged.”--Barry A. Crouch
School Library Journal
YA--The Oklahoma Slave Narrative Project was established as part of the WPA Works Project Administration from 1937-1939 to interview and collect narratives from former Texan slaves who had been relocated to Oklahoma. The 32 reminiscences presented here provide insight into the lives of the enslaved, including recollections of being sold away from parents, suffering harsh punishment by overseers, and living in misery. The selections also give valid information about daily life; e.g., medical care, religion, resistance to punishment, work routines, clothing, and housing. Black-and-white illustrations enhance the text. An important resource for history assignments.--Jamie L. Turner, Oakland Public Library, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780890967362
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1997
  • Series: Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series , #6
  • Pages: 162
  • Product dimensions: 7.27 (w) x 10.32 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author


T. Lindsay Baker has written many books on western and Texas history and material culture. He is director of academic programs and graduate studies for the Department of Museum Studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.Julie P. Baker received her master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She is the director of the Layland Museum in Cleburne, Texas.Kermit Oliver, who received his bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University in 1967, has illustrated two previous books. He lives and works in Waco.
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