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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 former slave remembers being sold and how he managed to keep his identity intact

Cheatham recalls a story her father told about being sold as a slave. He was able to retain a sense of autonomy and identity, even down to insisting on retaining his original last name, which was changed after he was sold.

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:
Did he ever try after people got free, did he ever tell y'all he tried to find his family, or just couldn't.
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
No. . . .
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Or it was just too late?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
It was too late, and he done got old. . .
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Did he know how many brothers and sisters he had?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Yeah, he know it, he know it, he know his people.
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Oh, he was big enough.
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
Yeah, 'cause he told us, he told us, he said we are not Cheathams, we ain't no Cheathams. And then he would tell of how they sold him, and everything, just a crowd of folks standing around there, waiting for, I said get his nigger, that's what they said, get his nigger, he said they put you up on a great big block, and make you stand on that block, and man bid you off just like you was dogs, you was standing there and looking at momma in front of everybody and you can't say nothing. He said, no, he said we ain't no Cheatham's, we weren't no Cheathams. Said we was Alans
JAMES EDDIE McCOY:
Uh huh, he was smart enough to keep his name, wasn't he?
ANNIE BELL CHEATHAM:
He kept his name.