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Slave Narratives [ The Challenge ]

originated 5th graders

at the Joseph Lee School, Boston, MA ( Books )

Brought to you by Inquiry Unlimited

The Slave Narrative of Kayla by Lisa L.

Entry 1

"Kayla! Kayla!" Grace-Ann would say whenever we were playing dress up. Grace-Ann would sometimes let me wear one of her old dresses. When I was a baby, the master told my mother that I was going to be a gift to his daughter, but wouldn't be able to be with my family. My mother said yes. She told me when I got older that being in the big house and being a gift was a good thing. Now I sleep in a big room at the foot of Grace-Ann's bed.

Sometimes the other colored kids would make fun of me because I was lighter than they were. I used to cry a lot and asked the master why I looked like this. Sometimes he never answered and sometimes he did.

Grace-Ann's room was big with a fireplace at the head of the room. My Grace-Ann loved to play dress-up and tea party and act like we were important people. Sometimes we would play school and that is how I secretly learned how to write and read.

Entry 2

My mother told me that she had a surprise for me. She opened the door and there was a man standing in the doorway. My mother told me that this was David Miller.

She took me into another room and said, "Kayla. He is helping us to run away."

I was shocked. I was happy there. The only thing I was afraid of was getting beaten, but my mother said that there was a better world out there. There was a place where you didn't have to get beaten and you would get to do whatever you wanted without anyone telling you that you couldn't do that. This new land sounded like a great place, but I didn't know how the master would feel about this. After my mother told me what we were going to do, I went back to the big house because Grace-Ann only gave me a certain amount of time to be with my family. My mother told me to get ready to leave for the great land.

Entry 3

Some new slave has come to the plantation today and was yelled at and whipped several times. Pa says the master is just trying to make him listen and learn about how the master won't play around with him. I was a little afraid because the master told everyone to come out and look at what would happen to us if we disobeyed him. No one dared to be rude to the master. Everyone said that he was as strict as they come. My good friend, Casey, got whipped until her death. I can still hear the whipping going on, 1 whip! 2 whip! 3 whip! 4 . . . .

Entry 4

Today I asked the master, James Miller, if I could go and see my parents and he said yes. I walked out of the big house and knocked on the door of my mother's cabin.

My mother, Cassey, opened the door of her cabin and said, "Come on in."

On the small table in the center of the room in the cabin, there were pieces of papers. I could tell Mama was planning for our journey. My mother started to write where we were going on the paper. I had taught my mother how to write. When I was little, Grace-Ann would take me through her school lessons. Then after her lessons, we would play school. She must have thought that I wasn't learning anything, but I was.

Entry 5

My mother went to ask the master if we could go to Kizzy's place.

He asked my mother, "Don't you want to go to that place for Christmas like you usually would do?"

I told him that it wouldn't be very long before it was Christmas. He let us go, but first we had to finish sewing up the holes in his pants. Mama told me to go and start packing even though we already had packed because we knew we were going. I went to get David but as I went I overheard the master saying that he was going to sell Jack. Jack wasn't in my family or anything like that but when I was little and the kids used to tease me, he would come and tell them to leave me alone. I ran into his cabin, but I was too late. The overseer had Jack in chains. As I ran over to him, the overseer got angry and threw a big wooden bowl at me. I fell down. The next thing I knew, Mama was praying and I was lying on a bed.

Entry 6

It was early, early in the morning when I woke up. I was feeling better. Today we were going away from this place. I stood up from the end of Grace-Ann's bed. She was reading a book. I asked her if I could go and meet my mother now. She said I could. She knew I was going on a trip. I went downstairs in the big house to the front door. Ma was there telling me to hurry and come because David was getting some horses. I could not believe that we were really going. I was so happy until I saw the overseer coming with his whip. I thought that he was going to yell at us, but he just walked by and then we were off to our new life!

Entry 7

Our passes were for four days. That would give us enough time, more than enough time. We were in North Carolina and all we had to do was to get over to Pennsylvania and we would be free. Free to do whatever we wanted to do. As we passed by the forests, we saw white people but someone told us that they were good people. They were trying to abolish slavery. They let me and my ma and David inside their houses and fed us some food.

Entry 8

We were up next to the border of Pennsylvania and our passes still hadn't expired. We still have one day left. At first I thought running away was going to be terrible, but with the help of the Underground Railroad, my mother and I were okay. Davis was a big help. He and I knew how to read, so we could read the wanted signs that were put out. We stole different horses so when we were free and slave catchers came around looking for us, the tracks of the horses would always be different.

Entry 9

We were half way next to the border and that's when an officer came and asked us what we were doing in the forest. The man had on a shiny, golden pin and was wearing a black suit. I handed our passes into his hand. He said to carry on. We walked over the border and we smelled the air. I asked my mother what that smell was and she said, "That is what we call the smell of freedom and it smells wonderful."

Slave Narrative by Lumyr D.

May 5

Massah was acting mighty strange today. He didn't sell any of us or whip any of us. He didn't even come to the field once. I knew something was up. Everybody else didn't care. They didn't want to wait until Massah was better to ask. They took their chance at running away. I stayed because I think Massah's tricking us.

May 6

Today Massah was back to normal. He caught and beat everybody who tried to escape.

After doing that, he said, "Now none of you better try to get out or I'm going to beat you good and there'll be sominels with it!"

Everything was fine for me today except that my sister tried to run away and got a severe beating and two crippled fingers. I wish I could give a good smack to old Massah but I can't. I'm running. I'm going to make me a plan and get out.

May 9

It took me three days, but I got it. I got help from some abolitionists I knew help slaves to escape. First when Massah is asleep and after he has checked on my sister and me, I'm going to go to the kitchen and get some pepper to have just in case he gets the dogs on us. We're going south to the end of Alabama because there's a boat waiting for us. Then the boat is going to take my sister and me to Cuba. Then we will be free!

May 10

Today my plan almost got found out when Massah saw me talking to my sister at check-in time. I almost got in trouble, but the overseer said I was too weak to get whipped. He just said I had to go to my shack and not come out at check-in time again. So I started to go to my shack. When the overseer wasn't looking, I went to the kitchen and grabbed six balls of pepper and a masher to mash the pepper up. Then I went back to go get Betty-Ann, my sister. Now we're headed south.

May 13

We made it to a Quaker's house three miles from the border of Georgia. He have shoes and a loaf of bread. When the Quaker saw my masher, he knew I had to crush something so I told him about the pepper. He offered me a container to keep them in after I crushed them. He told me when I saw a tree with no leaves on it to turn left and it would be a shortcut to the boat.

May 15

Now Betty-Ann and I were on the boat. All was going all right.

May 17

We made a stop in Florida because a slave hunter found us out. Now we're staying in a cave with Ben, the owner of the boat, and a black station master. The slave hunter passed right by our cave. When he did, my heart almost popped out of my chest. Ben told us that there was a group of Seminole Indians two miles south of the cave we were in. He said he'd meet us there.

May 20

We got to the Seminole tribe and they were might nice. They taught us how to catch wildlife for food and other useful things we might need to know since we were fugitive slaves. Ben met us like he said he would and told us we could stay with the Seminoles or we could go to Cuba. Betty-Ann decided to stay with the Seminoles and I wanted to try my luck in Cuba so we said our good-byes and Ben and I were off to Cuba.

May 25

After Ben dropped me off, I, for the first time, felt relaxed because I knew that I was safe, but more importantly, my sister was safe.

As of December 4, 2003, you are visitor to share our original slave narratives.
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Last modified: September 19, 2005. Copyright 1999 - Marjorie Duby. All rights reserved.
The original works contained on these pages may not be duplicated without expressed written permission of Marjorie Duby, except where otherwise noted. All rights reserved.