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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

An African American child saves herself from slavery

Parker remembers how her mother's mother saved herself from a lifetime of slavery. It seems like she was the daughter of a slaveowner and may have been working in his household, whether or not he legally owned her. She begged "the little white girl what she was waiting on"—maybe a half-sister—to save her from being sold when she had not yet borne a child at the age of twelve. Whites were mean to blacks back then, Parker reflects.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Serena Henderson Parker, April 13, 1995. Interview Q-0073. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EDDIE McCOY:
Well, who was her father? Your grandmother's—?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Who was my mama's granddaddy?
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh. What was his name?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Lord, have mercy. What did she tell—I don't know, but let me see, now. Who did she tell me her grandmother? I believe her grandmama was named Fanny. I just don't know [TAPE SKIPS] because she said [TAPE SKIPS] going to sell me. Something or other, don't let them sell me. Said she used to [say], "They ain't going to sell my nigger." And that was her grandmother. But I don't [recollect] what she said her name was. But [they didn't bother her.]
EDDIE McCOY:
They were going to sell her where?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
You know where they sell slaveries during that time. And see, they would sell the women—marry little girls and marry—they'd let them marry so they could bring up a family so they could work for them. And so her little grandmama was twelve years old and said they said, "You know, she hasn't had a baby yet so she got to go. She got to go. They going to sell her." And so she told the little white girl what she was waiting on. Said, ", don't let them sell me." She said, "They ain't going to sell my nigger because I love you. You ain't going to sell my nigger." And that's how she escaped from not being a slave.
EDDIE McCOY:
[Your] mother?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Her mother, my mother's grandmother. Uh-hum. That's how she escaped from not being a slave.
EDDIE McCOY:
Because she was the man's daughter? That was her father?
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
The little girl what said she didn't want them to sell her. That was my mama's grandmother.
EDDIE McCOY:
OK.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Uh-huh. And they were going to sell her because she hadn't had a child.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh-huh.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
See, they would make little children marry at ten years old.
EDDIE McCOY:
[Guess they were] getting as many children as they can.
SERENA HENDERSON PARKER:
Yeah, and just let them have babies like I don't know what. And [the little things] didn't know nothing about it. And they went through something. And see they were going—they made her marry. But I reckon she was too old to conceive then. And then after that, she started having children. Them old devils! I reckon they're burning in [Corinth] today for being so mean to black folks.