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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Annie Bell Williams Cheatham, March 21, 1995. Interview Q-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A slave fights to keep his identity even when made powerless by whites

Inherited memories of slavery remain intact and painful for Cheatham. Here she talks about her husband's father being sold from one white family to another and having his name changed in the process. However, he retained the memory of his original name and passed it on to his family. She goes on to talk about how work was divided according to gender and to ruminate on the control whites had over blacks in slavery, expecially when it came to having sex with enslaved black women.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Annie Bell Williams Cheatham, March 21, 1995. Interview Q-0015. 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

JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Do you, what farm did he come off, what plantation did he come off of, your husband?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
He, he was a Alan, I mean, that's the farm he came off of, he was a, he came off, and they sold him to a Cheatham, sold him to the Alans.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Do you know how much they sold him for?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
No, I don't. He didn't say how much they sold him for, but the women, the white men, they would want the women, so they could cook, and wash, and do all that, he said he would work with them, and the women would have to cook and do, and his foot, great big old thing busted in his foot, where he said he worked. . . .
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Frost bitten?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Uh huh, he said he didn't know nothing about no shoes. He worked, he said he get up soon in the morning, go over there, grubbing them, getting them grubs out of the ground, roots and things, didn't have no breakfast or nothing.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Breaking up new ground?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Yeah, land too. And he said the women, they would keep the women in the house, 'cause they do the cooking, and doing, and the white men would go with the black women.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Uh huh, and they didn't have no choice?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
No, they didn't have no choice, of course they didn't.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
So, if they wanted to go with a black man's wife, they could go whenever they got ready?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Yeah, that's what they did.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
And nothing could be done about it.
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Said you better not say nothing about it, say they will hang him, you wouldn't, you couldn't do nothing.