Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Slave Narratives - Fountain Hughes

I've read many books which had excerpts from slave narratives or depictions of slave life, but I've never heard an actual ex-slave describe his/her bondage. The Library of Congress has a podcast series called Voices from the Days of Slavery: Stories, Songs and Memories which is brilliant! Reading slave narratives is always jarring but listening to someone describe their life, well, it's overwhelming.

I found Foutain Hughes' narrative very interesting and noteworthy and made slavery which at times can seem so distant, very real. You can listen to the podcast below:

Listen to the whole thing (only 13 minutes), this last question and answer was very powerful:
HERMOND NORWOOD: Which had you rather be [a slave or free], Uncle Fountain?

FOUNTAIN HUGHES: Me? Which I’d rather be? You know what I’d rather do? If I thought… had any idea that I’d ever be a slave again, I’d take a gun and just end it all right away! Because you’re nothing but a dog. You’re not a thing but a dog! Night never come without you had nothing to do. Time to cut tobacco…if they want you to cut all night long out in the field you cut. And if they want you to hang all night long, you hang…hang tobacco. It didn’t matter about your tired…being tired. You’re afraid to say you’re tired. They just…well …[voice trails off]

Mr. Hughes is a remarkable man, this audio was recorded when he was 101 years old and his grandfather belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Learn more about Fountain Hughes.

Check out all the slave narratives (sometimes it's hard to understand but they have handy transcripts and  you can follow along).

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