Born October fourteenth, forty-five years ago, I wasn't always free.I couldn't always read and write.At this moment I am a free woman, telling my story, writing my story.Life for me wasn't always in Boston nor was the road smooth and straight.It wasn't too long ago that I was picking cotton in Virginia.I was a slave.It was a family tradition.My mother and father were slaves brought to the United States from Ghana.They were two of the "middle passage" survivors.My family- my mother, father, brother and I- were paid for and owned by the Johnson's.We lived in a shack behind the outhouse on the Johnson plantation.
Each morning the four of us rose before dawn, before our masters, to begin the daily toil.We did the field labor and farmed the cash crops mainly cotton and tobacco.My fingers, rubbed so raw from the hot sun and constant harvesting that sometimes at night my mother had to wrap them taught with cloths to stop the bleeding.The piercing Virginia sun burned my back day in and day out.It wasn't until I became older in Mississippi that I had a voice free of hoarseness after the endless parched days my mouth and throat experienced in Virginia.My voice was almost depleted.I was accustomed to it.After dusk was when my family was able to rest for the night.Dinner was what our owners no longer wanted, the leftover after they'd picked through and gluttonously eaten.Sometimes my brother would get so hungry during the day he would sneak a bite of tomato or a berry while we worked.He got caught once and Master Johnson whipped him until his skin tore open like a paged snatched out of a book.Tears swelled in my mother's eyes as she bandaged my brother; she could see the blood-soaked cloth sticking to his skin.My life in Virginia wasn't as bad as some of the other slaves.I endured and I lived.
All of a sudden one day while picking cotton, Mas…

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