Racial Equity Resource Guide


Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives

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With the Civil War ended in 1865, more than four million slaves were set free. By the late 1930s, 100,000 former slaves were still alive. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Federal Writers Project hired journalists and writers to travel the country and record the memories of this last generation of African Americans born into bondage. More than 2,000 interviews were transcribed as spoken, in the vernacular of the time, to form a unique historical record-first-hand accounts of what is was to be a slave. The Library of Congress is home to most of these "Slave Narratives." Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg and featuring dramatic readings by Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and others, Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives breathes the voices of the living into these transcripts of the past, bringing to life the pain and suffering, the fear and yearning, the pride, the spirit and the deep resonating sadness of those who had been born into slavery.

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