Excerpt – Sold Sister


I was told we came to this country on’ a big ole boat. The land we came from was far, far
away. I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout that ‘cause as far as I can tell, I’ve always been here. It’s
like I just woke up one day and started livin’ my life and that’s all I been tryin’ ta do for as
long as I know.

One day master saw fit to sell my mama off to another man who was needin’ a female that
could have some babies with a strong buck that he had. My mama sho’ was pretty. Her skin
was soft and brown. She wore her long, black hair in one braid that hung almost to the
middle of her back. My pa would walk up behind her and pull her braid real soft.
I loved to hear her say, “What ‘chu won’t now, Sam?”

Then she would smile a big ole’ smile and he would hug her and pick her up off her feet.
Mostly what I remember ‘bout my mama, though, is her crying and screaming my name when
her new master was taking her away on that wagon, “My babey, my babey, who goin’ take
care of my babey? Fola! Fola!”

Fola was my Yoruba name. It meant ‘honor,’ but ‘round the white folks everybody called me
‘Onna’ because it sound like honor when you said it jus’ right.
I remember thinking, “Why master lettin’ that white man take my mama away? Why he takin’
my mama away?”

After that, one of the older women kept me ‘cause I cried so much and ‘cause my pa got real
sick after they took away my mama.
I missed my mama. For hours the next day, I would cry out, “I won’t my mama, I won’t my

‘Til they covered my mouth and told me I better hush for master come take me away, or