James Green, San Antonio, Texas, July 1937
“My mother was owned by John Williams of Petersburg, Virginia. I come born to her on a plantation, and den my father went about getting me free. He was a full blooded Indian, and had done some big favor for a big man high up in de courts, and by and bye Mr. Williams comes to my mother and says I am a ‘free boy’. I never knowd what was mixed up in it, but Mr. Williams used to laugh and call me ‘free boy, Jim’. I never had to do much work for nobody but my mother.
“Then, one day, along comes a Friday. Friday is my unlucky star and it is my lucky star day, too. I was playin’ around de house, Mr. Williams comes up and says:
“‘Delia, will you let Jim walk down the street with me?’
“‘All right, moster,’ says my mother. ‘And, Jim, you be a good boy.
“Dat was de last time I ever heard my mother speak, or ever see her. We walks down where de houses grows close together, and pretty soon we comes to de slave market. I ain’t ever seed one before and didn’t knowd what it was. Mr. Williams says to me to get up on de block. It was about so high —(three feet). I gets up like I was told. As soon as I stood straight I got a funny feelin’. I knows somehow what was happenin’. But I just stood there. In a few minutes they told me to get down and turned me over to a man named John Pinchback.”
WPA Slave Narrative Project, Texas Narratives, Volume 16, Part 2
Federal Writer’s Project, United States Work Projects Administration; Manuscript Division, Library of Congress