Saturday, January 5, 2013

Meet Moses Grandy. . .

This is the first in a series of posts to commemorate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the historic second inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama II on January 21, 2013. The series traces the emergence of African-Americans from slavery and the long, circuitous route into public office. There is no better way to begin than by reading Moses Grandy's first-hand account of a life born into slavery. Mr. Grandy bought his freedom three times, then traveled by ship from New Orleans to England to share his experiences with abolitionists. They recorded his saga in chilling detail, and published it in 1844, casting light on the darkest chapter of American history and one man's determination to bring an end to it. Following is Mr. Grandy's story in his own words.

"My name is Moses Grandy. I was born in Camden county, North Carolina. I believe I am fifty-six years old. Slaves seldom know exactly how old they are; neither they nor their masters set down the time of a birth; the slaves, because they are not allowed to write or read, and the masters, because they only care to know what slaves belong to them.

"The master, Billy Grandy, whose slave I was born, was a hard-drinking man; he sold away many slaves. I remember four sisters and four brothers; my mother had more children, but they were dead or sold away before I can remember. I was the youngest. I remember well my mother often hid us all in the woods, to prevent master from selling us. When we wanted water, she sought for it in any hole or puddle formed by falling trees or otherwise. It was often full of tadpoles and insects. She strained it, and gave it round to each of us in the hollow of her hand. For food, she gathered berries in the woods, got potatoes, raw corn, etc. After a time, the master would send word to her to come in, promising he would not sell us. But, at length, persons came who agreed to give the prices he set on us. His wife, with much to be done, prevailed on him not to sell me; but he sold my brother, who was a little boy. My mother, frantic with grief, resisted their taking her child away. She was beaten, and held down, she fainted; and, when she came to herself, her boy was gone. She made such outcry, for which the master tied her up to a peach-tree in the yard, and flogged her.

"Another of my brothers was sold to Mr. Tyler, Dewan's Neck, Pasquotank county. This man very much ill treated many colored boys. One very cold day, he sent my brother out, naked and hungry, to find a yoke of steers; the boy returned without finding them, when his master flogged him, and sent him out again. A white lady, who lived near, gave him food, and advised him to try again; he did so, but, it seems, again without success. He piled up a heap of leaves, and laid himself down in them, and died there. He was found through a flock of turkey buzzards hovering over him; these birds had pulled his eyes out."

Click here to read Mr. Grandy's full story.