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Whitney Plantation Slave Museum ~ New Orleans Louisiana

Lousiana Slaves Speak About Social Injustice

Publisher’s Note

The Whitney Plantation documents and  memorializes the lives of Louisiana slaves.

Thousands of names, stories and bits of information about these slaves

have been inscribed on black granite walls.

I have selected a few interview stories about social injustice

  – cruelty personified – endured by Louisiana slaves.

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“I ‘member how my master used to would come and get my sister,

make her take a bath and comb her hair,

and take her down in the quarter all night,

den have the nerve to come around de next day and ask her how she feel.”

~ Julia Woolrich, Louisana Slave

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“ The most cruel master in St. John the Baptist Parish

during slavery time was a Mr. Vaisin Mermillion.

One of his cruelties was to place a disobedient slave standing,

in a box, in which there were nails placed in such a manner

that the poor creature was unable to move.

He was powerless even to chase the flies or sometimes,

ants crawling on some parts of his body.”

~ Mrs. Webb, Louisiana Slave

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“My father wuz sold ‘way from us when I was small.

Dat wuz a sad time fer us.

Mars wouldn’t sell the mudders ‘way from deir chillun

so us lived wid her out de fear ob bein’ sold.

My pa sho’ did hate ter leave us.

He missed us and us longed for him.”

~ Hannah Chapman, Louisiana Slave

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“Oh yes, I was whipped once.

It was my business to keep all the horses slick and clearn.

Once when old Mares was going to ride his horse,

he took his handerchief and rubbed it down Brutus’ back;

and ‘cause it comed out dirty.

I got a licking; but that was the only time.

~ Hontun Love, Louisiana Slave

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“For punishment my mother is take to the barn and strapped down

on a thing called the Pony.

Hands spread like this and strapped to the floor

and all two both she feet been tied like this.

And she been give twenty-five to fifty lashes till the blood flow.

And my father and me stand right there and look and ain’t able to lift a hand.”

~Ben Henry, Louisiana Slave

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“You know they didn’t call colored children

nothin but pickaninnies then. I want that little pickaninny.

And the mother would go one way and the child the other.

The mother would be screaming and hollering

and the child wouldn t be saying nothing

it didn t know what was goin on.”

~ H.B. Holloway, Louisiana Slave

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“Who, us read! if you would have picked up a piece of paper

they would have slapped your damn head off.

I used to deliver notes to the neighbor.

Dey knew we couldn’t read and dey didn’t want us to learn how either.

My ma used to jump up and down and say we gwine be free,

but if de boss had of heard her, she would have been put in the stocks,

her hands, feet, and head. Dat would have been her punishment.”

~Julia Woolrich, Louisiana Slave

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“One night master come in drunk

an’ set at de table wid his head lollin’ aroun’ . I was waitin’ on de table,

and he look up an’ see me. I was skeered and dat made him awful mad.

He called an’ overseer an tol’ him: taker out out an’ beat some sense in her.

I began to cry an’run an’run in de night; but finally I run back in de quarters

and heard mammy callin’ me I went in an’ and right away dey come for me

A horse was standin’ in front of de house. an’ I was took dat very night to Richmon’

an’ sold to a speculator ag’in.  I never seed my mammy anymore.”

~ Delia Garic, Louisana Slave


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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