October 6, 1853

March 24, 2013
It has been 3 weeks since I last saw my master. 3 weeks since I tore down the wooden fence, snatched up all my master’s food and ran. I am still running, praying to the Lord that I make it alive to the North where I can roam free, away from the horrid white men that cause me such pain.

The memory of that day is still fresh in my mind. It was a very hot day. The type of day where the sun’s rays feel like fire as you bend down to pick the cotton. What little clothing I was given, barely covered my body.

I bent down to pick up a last piece of cotton when my sister sighed.

“I can’t take this pain anymore. Not just my body, but my heart too. Everyday, every moment, I have fear. I can’t take it anymore,” she moaned.

I quickly spun around in fear of the master listening in as I pulled out a piece of cloth and handed it to her.

“We may be slaves, but we can help others gain hope to be free. Turn this piece of cloth into something magnificent. Something to help our brothers and sisters gain a better life.”

And so it began, we worked day and night on the quilt. We threw ourselves into the work. Every piece of cloth, every thread had a meaning. When it didn’t symbolize hope, it would symbolize religion. It would have beautiful pictures of Moses leading our people to freedom. It would tell tales and stories of our people. It would bring memories of those Saturday nights where we danced and danced to the music our brothers played banjos.

It would speak dozens about those long cold nights, where we huddled with family, in that small cabin, seeking warmth from the togetherness. And then it had so many pictures to encourage others to seek something better than this life. To resist the masters that enslaved us. To put away the fear and seek bravery.

That quilt was my pride and joy.

Huddled in the dark alley, I can’t help but wonder what became of that quilt. I hope it is still there, shedding light to my brothers and sisters. I hope one day there will be no use for that quilt. That our kind will roam free and whites and blacks will hold hands together for they are equal.

And for my children and their children, who may be free, I hope you remember your ancestors. I hope you keep our traditions alive. And I hope that whatever situation life brings you, you make the best out of it. I hope that you will seek the best for yourself, because all of you deserve it.

I don’t know what will become of me, only the Lord knows.

-Eloise Harris

Former slave

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