Audio Recording "My grandmother was a slave."

About this Item

"My grandmother was a slave."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Choate, Donna. (Interviewee)
Choate, Donna. (Creator)
Created / Published
Sparta, North Carolina
Subject Headings
-  personal experience narratives
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- North Carolina -- Sparta
-  Transcription: GJ: Mrs. Choate, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? / DC: Well, I was born near Baywood Virginia, in 1909. My parents were James and Lucindy Greer. And my grandmother was a slave. Yes, my grandmother was a slave. My mother was raised, white people raised her, from a child up to her marriage. She was raised in North Carolina. Where do I go from there? / GJ: How did it happen that white people raised your mother? / DC: Her mother, my grandmother, was a slave and she lived with these people, and she died, and my mother was a little girl, about ten or eleven years old. And these white people kept her, and raised her. She even went to school. She had very good she could read very well. And count, too. [...] But I have three sisters, and seven brothers, and there's only two of us living. And, of course, I only have a public school here, I guess you would call it, education. I finished the seventh grade and that was as far as they taught those days. They had high schools of course in Sparta, but they were not open to the black people. So I finished the seventh grade when I was thirteen years old, and that was as far I got with school. But I did a lot of reading in my time. I did a lot of reading. My mother and my father too would bring newspapers home from the places where they worked, and I would read the news to them until they got where they could, able to subscribe to a magazine, or a newspaper, something like that, but I was the reader. They said the reason I read so well, I didn't like to wash dishes. [laughter] I could always find something interesting to read at dishwashing time. See, I married in the year of 1933. And we have one child, and she's in Chicago. So it's the two of us here alone. My husband was raised down in North Carolina, but I was raised practically in Virginia. But we moved to North Carolina, oh, I think it was the year of '21.
-  Donna Choate is an African-American woman who learned to quilt from her mother who was taught to piece quilts by the white family who raised her. Although at the time of the interview Mrs. Choate had not made quilts for several years, she describes the process, both as her mother practiced it and as she had done it herself. Mrs. Choate had made both utility and fancy quilts, for the use of her family, not for sale.
-  For rights information please contact the Folklife Reading Room at
Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R92
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center
Online Format

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Credit line

Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:

Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection, 1977-1981 (AFC 1982/009), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Lands' End all-American quilt collection, 1992-1997 (AFC 1997/011), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Donna Choate, and Donna Choate. "My grandmother was a slave.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio.

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Choate, D. & Choate, D. (1978) "My grandmother was a slave.". Sparta, North Carolina. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Donna Choate, and Donna Choate. "My grandmother was a slave.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.