COVID-19: 5 Reasons Why African-Americans Are More At Risk

Almost 60% of African-American deaths each year can be contributed to heart disease, cancer, strokes, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. These are the top 5 leading causes of death for African-Americans. Those same illnesses may be associated with what makes African-Americans more vulnerable to being severely affected by the coronavirus.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention people at increased risk for critical illness include people of all age groups with underlying medical circumstances. The CDC doesn’t specify how COVID-19 affects racial groups or that one particular racial group is more vulnerable over the other but there are, however, some key circumstances associated with the coronavirus that do make African-Americans more at risk. A comparison of the CDC’s list of groups at higher risk and statistical data from other reliable health organizations reveals that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by the majority of medical dispositions listed.


Except for people 65 years and older and those living in a nursing home or long-term care facility, the list begins with people with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma. After researching racial statistics on chronic respiratory illnesses we found that it's very much recorded that asthma rates are higher among black individuals. 10.1% of African-Americans versus only 8.1% of whites in 2017, as indicated by the CDC.

Concerning asthma-related fatalities, the racial divide is considerably wider. Asthma-related causes were 3 times more likely to lead to death in African-American adults than whites in 2014, as per the US Office of Minority Health. African-American kids had a fatality rate 10 times higher than whites in 2015.

Other conditions associated with chronic respiratory illnesses include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary hypertension, and lung diseases associated with work. Cigarette and cigar smoking accounts for about 80% of those illnesses; according to the CDC.

Next on the CDC’s list is people who have serious heart conditions. According to the American Heart Association and CDC, cardiovascular disease is the No.1 assassin for all Americans; the primary cause of one-third of all US adult deaths. The term “cardiovascular disease” is used to describe several disorders of the heart and blood vessels such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure. The dangers of getting these illnesses are much higher for African-Americans who only comprise 13% of the US population. African-Americans have a 3 times greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and 2 times greater risk of cardiovascular disease-related deaths than that of whites and other ethnic groups. Stroke risk among African-Americans is 3 times higher than that of Whites.

The third group on the CDC’s list of medical dispositions are people who are immunocompromised. It even goes on to list conditions that could contribute to a not so healthy immune system. Smoking is one of those conditions and it may stick out more than the others because tobacco use is a primary contributor to the 3 leading causes of death among African-Americans: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.

African-Americans are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than whites and have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers.

African-Americans who smoke cigarettes are 2 times likely to have a stroke than those who avoid tobacco, and those between ages 45 and 64 have 2-3 times the risk of stroke compared to whites as indicated by the American Heart Association.

Nicotine increases blood sugar levels furthering complications with those already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and contributes to kidney failure. Furthermore, vaping and smoking increase the likeliness of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by 30% to 40%.

Moving on with the CDC’s list, obesity is also a risk factor and according to a 2018 study by the CDC African-American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese. Opposed to other racial groups in the U.S. approximately, 4 in 5 black women are overweight or obese. Obese individuals are at higher risk of having other chronic health conditions, such as asthma, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The same leading causes of deaths among blacks.

Then there’s HIV/AIDS. African-Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people with HIV, as opposed to other ethnicities. In 2018, blacks accounted for 42% of the 37,832 new diagnoses in the US. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. Not being able to create enough antibodies makes the body vulnerable to other illnesses.

So black people are not only disproportionately affected by COVID-19, it’s just those black people disproportionately represent these high-risk classifications of people with underlying medical disadvantages. So, when Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General asked individuals from the black and Latino community to cease alcohol consumption, drug use and tobacco he was spot on. His statement wasn't racial profiling, but rather stating that those things compromise a person's immune system.

Blacks Were Never Immune To Covid-19

The exponential spread of the coronavirus over the globe has left huge numbers of the world's residents shaken to their centers as health authorities work to make sense of an answer for the hyper-infectious ailment that is otherwise called COVID-19.

While the coronavirus has found its way on to every landmass except Antarctica, just last month social media timelines were exploding with jokes and rumors that ventured to such an extreme as to pronounce with no trace of evidence that Black people were somehow resistant to the coronavirus. 

A month ago there were no publicly reported cases of COVID-19 victims being black; Africa appeared to be the only inhabitable continent where the virus didn’t gain widespread. The only race-based data about the coronavirus had been about individuals expressing prejudice towards people of Asian descent as if they are at fault for the infection being in America.

Such rumors may have started out as jokes, but they proved to be more dangerous to the black community and others than funny. Many ignored the basic safety instructions expressed by health officials. Precautions like social distancing and avoiding public gatherings were disregarded. Even after state officials issued shelter-in-place orders police officers were still being dispatched to residencies hosting house parties.

Fast-forward to now just a month later; COVID-19 has infected over 50 African countries with close to 10,500 confirmed cases. Over 500 deaths have been reported from the continent. Here in the United States unmistakable evidence has emerged demonstrating that African-Americans are in-fact disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Black Americans in Illinois, for instance, represented 29% of affirmed cases and 41% of fatalities as of Monday morning, yet they make up just 15% of the state's populace, as indicated by the Illinois Department of Public Health, one of several government offices sharing data on who is hardest hit by the infection. Michigan is similar to Illinois, with 34% of COVID-19 cases and 40% of fatalities striking African-Americans, even though just 14% of Michigan's populace is Black. The story is comparative in Wisconsin, Blacks number almost 50% of the 941 cases in Milwaukee County and 81% of its 27 fatalities while the populace is 26%, African-American.

So it turns out that Black people were never immune to the coronavirus, but instead underrepresented in statistical data. For example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares information on age, sexual orientation, and area of COVID-19 patients, however not their race or ethnicity. The general public would have no way of knowing the racial demographics of COVID-19 infections; leaving room for unintelligible rumors to surface.

This is an example of why it’s not good to use social media and other outside sources alone to decide what personal safety measures you should be taking for yourself and your family. The absence of proof is not proof of absence. It’s better to assume that you can get COVID-19 and that everyone has it; than to assume you can't be infected meanwhile risking infecting yourself, family, and others.

Throw The Whole Holiday Away: Columbus Day!

With the recent surge of civil rights protesters and nationalists petitioning for the removal of Confederate monuments around the United States. Some even going as far as destroying statues themselves. A serious question is being posed for America. If Confederate monuments demoralize American values because of their direct association with the organization of slavery, racism, and division; wouldn't these standards also apply to national holidays as well?

I mean let's take Columbus Day for example.

Each year Christopher Columbus is revered as the European voyager who sailed the uncharted seas and discovered this new undeveloped land inhabited by just a few lonely and uncivilized savages who needed to be Christianize. This is what is taught in schools.

European Americans are comfortable with this image because it depicts their ancestors as heroic. Flip the coin the other way and that same image downplays the tragic impact his legacy had on the indigenous population of the Americas and Africa.

How come school textbooks don't tell students that Columbus was the first European to bring slavery to the Americas?

After encountering the natives on his first voyage, Columbus wrote in his journal that he could "...conquer the whole of them with fifty men" and govern them as he pleased.

Miguel Cuneo, a crew member accompanying Columbus on his second voyage to the Americas in 1494 wrote in a letter that Columbus captured 1,600 natives on the island of Hispaniola and hoarded them to their settlement Isabela. From there 650 men and women were involuntarily "loaded' aboard Spanish sea vessels like cargo destined for slave markets in Spain. Another 550 natives were awarded to Spanish settlers to " take them as he wished, and so it was." Cuneo also bragged about raping a young girl given to him by Columbus.

Bartolomé de Las Casas, a Spanish priest accompanying Columbus’s third voyage wrote in a report, "(I say no more than what I saw)...He separated and divided Families, forcing Married Men from their Wives, and young girls from their parents, which he bestowed upon his Mariners and Soldiers, to gratify their burning lust."

The men were forced to labor the gold mines while the women worked in the fields. They were provided so little to eat that nursing mother's breast milk would dry up and their infants starved to death. Eventually, the men and women would perish from hunger and overexertion.

The Spanish invaders attacked the indigenous populations, not sparing men, women or children. Constant purging, slavery, hunger, and European disease decimated Caribbean native populations with a death toll between 12 to 50 million within 40 years according to Las Casas.

An early painting of pre-Columbian Americans

The native population was depleted so low the Spanish slavers began importing African slaves to the Caribbean in 1502; by 1510, the Atlantic Slave Trade became an integral part of the American economy for European colonists.

It is important now, in the 21st century that we look at Columbus's arrival to the West Indies through the eyes of the millions of people who were killed for sport, raped, enslaved, separated from their families, and robbed of their identities. The Eurocentric view of Columbus as a hero who deserves a holiday instead of a terrorist is hypocrisy to a nation supposedly founded on Christian views.

In 1986 after overthrowing the Duvalier regime Haitian protesters, tossed the great statue of Columbus into the ocean. It's time America does the same with Columbus Day. It should be replaced with a new federally recognized tribute to the indigenous tribes and victims of the slave trade.



A Brief Account of the Destruction of the by Bartolome de las Casas

Maid to Order:
Columbus' "Cannibal Girl" and the Captivity Narrative

Michele da Cuneo letter

Why Single Mothers Can't Wish Themselves A Happy Father's Day

Every Father's Day thousands of single mothers get together on social media wishing each other a Happy Father's Day! I am completely empathetic towards women who are actually single mothers and who don't have many male figures in their lives.

Some of these women may just be bitter about their failed relationships and the children that resulted from them. Others may just be attention crazy and might not like men being the center of attention for one day of the year. Whatever it may be though, the mentality of these women that wish themselves a Happy Father's Day can be harmful to both children and men.The reason being is because it in-acknowledges the countless male figures a child may encounter throughout their childhood causing them to not respect male authority figures.

Just because a woman may not be in a relationship with her child's father doesn't mean that she plays both roles as a parent. The father may still be very present in a child's life; financially, physically, or both. Neither does it mean that she is a "single-parent". Eligibility to use the term "single-parent" requires a person to actually be single. Many of these women have boyfriends who they bring home often or who live with them and still consider themselves "single-mothers". These men are around the children of these women enough to influence them to some degree. 

Many children also have adult male siblings, cousins, uncles, grandfathers, teachers, coaches, and pastors who they interact with on a day-by-day basis. Many of these men are male figures for these children and will help shape and mold their perception of what a man is or isn't; good or bad.

Instead of the mother of these children acknowledging these men on Father's Day she'd rather give praise to herself claiming that she fills both roles as a parent; which is impossible for her to do, being as though she is not a man and technically cannot be a father. These women obviously confuse providing financial support and being physically there with being a father; when in all actuality that's called being a "parent".

A young girl learns to be a woman by observing her mother. Most of her views on life, men, and how to interact with them will come from how she sees her mother interact with them. How does this work for a young boy? How can a young boy learn to be a man from observing his mother? And if the young girl is learning to be a woman from observation of her mother, wouldn't the young boy observe the same things? This is why it is important for young boys to have positive male role models. 

The reason a woman can't teach a young boy to be a man is that he cannot observe her being a man. All he sees is his mother; a woman, and not a father figure. Ironically, it's these same women who complain about so many men having female tendencies these days. Many of these men grow-up in "single-mother" households with nothing to observe but women. As a result, some of these young men will pick-up effeminate traits.

There are plenty of men raising children without the mother's help and we don't often hear these guy's claiming Mother's Day and they're not calling themselves "single-parents" if they are in relationships with women who are an essential part of their children's lives. These men understand they are not filling a mother's shoes; they're just being a "parent".

That being said, it is a mother's responsibility to make sure her children have positive male mentorship in their lives regardless of her relationship status with the father of her children. It is also a father's responsibility to be active in their children's lives; providing as much of a positive male influence as possible. So, ladies instead of claiming Father's Day for yourselves, how about giving tribute to the men who are in your child's life.

Ex-Slave Aunt Harriet Smith Describes Life On A Sugar Cane Plantation During The Civil War

Ex-Slave Aunt Harriet Smith describes what everyday life was like on a sugar cane plantation during the time of the Civil War. Listen as she recalls her experience from molasses making to black soldiers marching to fight for freedom.

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Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
John Henry Faulk: I remember a long time ago you told me about during the big break up, the soldiers came by and uh, riding horseback. And you all were sitting on the fence, you children. Can you remember that?
Harriet Smith: Yeah.
John Henry Faulk:Lean this way just a little bit and tell about it.
Harriet Smith: Yes, I remember, that's, the, the, just, sit there, sat all day and look at them. They play the prettiest, prettiest music you ever heard in your life. And the soldiers would, you know. And them horses, they'd sing, you know. And them horses dart and follow the music just like that.
John Henry Faulk:Well I'll declare. Had them trained.
Harriet Smith: Yeah, had them trained.
John Henry Faulk:Well what about this girl you told me about there one time.
Harriet Smith:Well, N. P. was the one that uh, belonged to Mrs. P., the one that our white folk's neighbors. And she got her arm ground off in molasses mill, feeding molasses mill.
John Henry Faulk:How was that? How do you mean feeding a molasses mill?
Harriet Smith:Putting that cane in there for it to grind out to make molasses.
John Henry Faulk:Oh yeah. Ground out juice, uh huh.
Harriet Smith:Yeah, juice. They had them wooden, what you call things, you know, mash the cane with them.
John Henry Faulk:And they hitch a mule to it wouldn't they?
Harriet Smith:Yes.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
John Henry Faulk: And he'd walk in a circle.
Harriet Smith:Yes sir, yes. He'd walk in a circle.
John Henry Faulk:Kind of like a hay baler? [John Henry Faulk and Harriet Smith overlap]
Harriet Smith:It have a, it have, it have a lever to it, you know, and go around and around.
John Henry Faulk: Uh huh.
Harriet Smith:We've made molasses that way. I've made molasses myself.
John Henry Faulk:You have. Well, now this girl got her arm ground off in molasses, uh, mill.
Harriet Smith: Yes, feeding the molasses mill, uh huh. That was the, that was the neighbor girl. [mumbles]
John Henry Faulk:Well how old was she?
Harriet Smith:Oh, she was a great big girl. She was about, big enough to feed the mill. About ten or twelve years old I reckon. Maybe that old, maybe even a little older than that. The neighbors had a molasses mill, the P.'s. She made molasses for everybody nearly. That girl had that mill to feed. Cane, would have cane you know, great big piles, piled up. She had to reach down and get that and put it in between them cork grinders and let it grind out and when that grind out, she'd pick up another handful and put in there.
John Henry Faulk:Well did they have good doctors for them in those days? Was, when it ground off her arm what did they do? How did they get her out? [John Henry Faulk and Harriet Smith overlap]
Harriet Smith:I don't, I don't know. I guess they carried her to [unintelligible]. I, I remember Dr. M., and, and uh, Dr. C. I remember them.
John Henry Faulk: Well, when the soldiers came by what, where, where was she?
Harriet Smith:Who M.?
John Henry Faulk:Uh huh.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith: She was on the other side. She lived the other side of us. She was living, she was living with our white folk. But this road went right along by our white people's house. I can go right today where I was born there. And they was coming right along by the house and they'd all day for weeks at the time. Them soldiers was traveling going south to San Antonio. [mumbles] We children stand on the fence and looked at them. Oh they had the prettiest horses you most ever saw.
John Henry Faulk:Well now what, what did those girls, what would this girl M. do.
Harriet Smith:M. P.?
John Henry Faulk: Uh huh.
Harriet Smith: Well she, she fed the mill. She [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk:Well I mean though when, when the soldiers came by.
Harriet Smith: Why, she's on the fence there with us looking at them. She lived right across from us you know, and that was the road and she [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk:Well I thought she went off with a soldier or something.
Harriet Smith:She did. She went off with a soldier. Soldiers come along, we all setting on the fence, and uh, or standing at the fence, setting and a colored soldier come along and ask her did she want to go with him and she said yes. And she mounted one of them horses and [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk:Right behind him huh?
Harriet Smith:Uh, uh, no, rode a horse to herself.
John Henry Faulk: Is that right?
Harriet Smith:That's right. We could ride horses. We could jump on them horses saddle sometime, ride them sometime. We learn how to do, I could stand flat-footed on the ground, jump on a horse sideways.
John Henry Faulk: Is that right?
Harriet Smith:That's right, yeah.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
John Henry Faulk:Well you were a rider.
Harriet Smith:Yes. All of us, all of we all was raised to ride horses. Pa had horses of his own, chickens of his own.
John Henry Faulk:Well now what happened to M. P. after she and this soldier [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith:I, she went on with him. I never did see her and hear tell of her no more. She was going toward San Antonio.
John Henry Faulk:Going towards San Antonio.
Harriet Smith: Yes. She rode on with them down there.
John Henry Faulk: Well, what did she do? She didn't even tell her mama she was going or anything, huh?
Harriet Smith:She didn't have any mother.
John Henry Faulk:Oh, I see.
Harriet Smith: Yeah.
John Henry Faulk: And it's all, she'd already been freed hadn't she?
Harriet Smith:Yes, yes. That was the time the soldiers was going back you know after the freedom, back. And she'd always come over to our house and stay with us and play around. And she got on that horse and left that day. [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk: Well, can you remember the times right after the, after the big break up very well? Do you remember were times pretty hard then?
Harriet Smith:Yes. Times was hard. We worked and our white folks wasn't mean to their colored people. They was different from, there was seven brothers of them. Old man S. B., and J. B., and B. B. And they had one more B., that was name Kentucky Joe and so on. Whole passel of them. Seven brothers of them, I know. Some of them lived at Cedar Creek. Ma knowed them all and grandma knowed [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk: Well what did you all do after the big break up? Did you all leave the place?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:No. We stayed on the place, and rented on the half.
John Henry Faulk:Oh rented on the half [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith:Yes. All, all our white folks was dead. And the overseer was old uh, B., Tom, Ira B.
John Henry Faulk:Ira B.
Harriet Smith:At Mountain City. That was our uh, uh, over, overseer over the place there, you know.
John Henry Faulk:And y'all rented on the halves.
Harriet Smith: Rented on the halves till we bought our home across the creek.
John Henry Faulk:Oh you bought your home. About how long after the big break up did you all buy your home?
Harriet Smith:Oh, I didn't buy. We didn't buy. Pa bought the home from old R., across the creek. And he stayed down there. And I used to stay with Aunt Rose an Uncle George. They was old folks, had no children, you know. They used to get me to come stay with them. And when I married they give me a home on the place.
John Henry Faulk:Well were they white folks?
Harriet Smith:No, colored folks.
John Henry Faulk:Oh, colored folks. Well, how old were you when you married?
Harriet Smith:I don't know, about seventeen, eighteen years old. Well maybe not that old. I didn't know my age. But ma and them knew. They didn't tell us though. We just guessed at it.
John Henry Faulk: Who did you marry?
Harriet Smith: J. S.
John Henry Faulk: J. S. Had he been a, had he, had he been a, a slave?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:Oh yes. He was a slave. After the break up they sent him, he come from Blanco and bought a home over across the creek where we bought homes, adjoining our home. His father and mother did, you know. [mumbles]
John Henry Faulk:Uh, well, he, he had been freed then, I guess, the, uh, same time you had.
Harriet Smith: Oh yes, yes. They lived at Blanco. They bought them a home over in the colony. R. had sold the colored people all the homes there. I don't know.
John Henry Faulk:Who was R.?
Harriet Smith:A white man name R. lived right down the hill from us. They sold P. B. a home, and uh, pa had a home, Uncle Dave a home. All, all of them just all of them [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk:Well I declare. Uh, that was right after the big break up was it, uh?
Harriet Smith:Mmmm. About two, three years after the break up.
John Henry Faulk:Huh, and you just had a colony of, uh, colored folks?
Harriet Smith:Yes, that colony, where we, where I come from, has got homes out there. At Buellah they call it now. It wasn't nothing but woods when we bought it.
John Henry Faulk: And they call it Buellah now?
Harriet Smith: Yes.
John Henry Faulk: Oh I know where Buellah is.
Harriet Smith: Yes, yes, yes [mumbles].
John Henry Faulk:Did you know Mr. T. in those days?
Harriet Smith:I reckon I did know Mr. T.
John Henry Faulk: Huh. What was he [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith: He was a deputy sheriff there for a while.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
John Henry Faulk:Is that right?
Harriet Smith: Yes sir. He was a mighty fine man too, that's right.
John Henry Faulk:Yeah, he sure is.

Could Nike Lose Its NFL Apparel Contract?

There's no such thing as bad publicity at least that's the motto among celebrities in Hollywood, but when you're a huge brand like Nike a bad look could cost you millions.

When Nike announced that it would be sponsoring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign the company amassed more than $43 million in free exposure. Bloomberg reported Tuesday, that Nike basically received free advertising in less than 24 hours after it revealed its decision to the public due to the big fuss on social media. Apparently, a lot of American patriots didn't agree with Nike's choice and deliberately began vandalizing their own purchased Nike products.

Now we all know that Kaepernick has been a very controversial subject in the media since he took his first knee during the national anthem of the 2016 games in protest of racial inequality. Since then he has been labeled a troublemaker and everything but a patriot.

Even though the great majority of Nike's free exposure was said to be positive, and they're obviously not worried about a massive sales decrease; how does this affect their apparel contracts with the NFL? Nike originally signed a $1.1 billion, five-year deal to be the NFL’s exclusive provider of uniforms and apparel which began in 2012. That deal was then extended in 2015 for three more years which runs through the 2019 season. Then in March of this year, the brands signed yet another contract extending the deal to 2028.
How much Nike spent out of pocket for this NFL deal hasn't been released yet but according to money.cnn, Nike spent $1 billion on its 8-year apparel deal with the NBA.

So it's obvious that Nike and the NFL have a tight relationship. At least until 2028. Even if the NFL wanted to back out now with all the latest publicity surrounding Nike and Kaepernick they couldn't without legal actions. 

This is quite a gamble for Nike; even if the publicity raises sales, Kaepernick is still unsigned to any NFL team. So, what's the motive? Would Nike risk losing its long-standing relationship with the NFL in order to get Kaepernick signed? Or is Nike using Kaepernick for publicity?

With 2028 so far off, it's hard to say but there's definitely something fishy going on. I don't know what it is, but I can't wait to see how this turns out.

As for all the angry American patriots vandalizing your own clothing I have four words for you Good Will and Salvation Army.

Interview with Ex Slave Aunt Harriet Smith 1941

Aunt Harriet Smith says 's, she was just 13 years old during the Civil War. Listen to her story as she gives her account of what it was like to be a slave in those days. In this 1941 interview by the Library of Congress, Aunt Harriet recounts her days on the plantation picking cotton as a young child and witnessed first-hand black soldiers marching into battle during the Civil War.

Transcripts can be found below

Show/Hide Transcript

Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas
Harriet Smith:And you ask me any words you want to ask me about a slave, you know, back, and uh, I can remember.
John Henry Faulk:Well Aunt Harriet about how old are you?
Harriet Smith:Well I don't know Mr. Faulk. I really don't know my age, only by the, the children telling me, of course. My ma died, and she, and she didn't know nothing about our age. But the children traced back from the ex-slave up to now.
John Henry Faulk:Well how old were you when you were [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith:Well, I was about thirteen years old at the break up.
John Henry Faulk:Uh huh. Can you remember slavery days very well?
Harriet Smith:Of course. I can remember all our white folks. And all the names of them, all the children. Call every one the children's names.
John Henry Faulk:Who, who did you belong to?
Harriet Smith:J. B., the baby boy.
John Henry Faulk:Where was that? Where did he live?
Harriet Smith:Back, out here in Hays County.
John Henry Faulk:Sure enough? How many, how many of, how many slaves did he have?
Harriet Smith:Well, he had my grandma, and uh, and my ma. My ma was the cook, and grandma, you know, and them they worked in the field, and everything. I remember when she used to plow oxen. I plowed, I plowed oxen myself.
John Henry Faulk:Is that right?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:I can plow and lay off a corn row as good as any man.
John Henry Faulk:Is that right?
Harriet Smith:Course I can.
John Henry Faulk:Well good for you. [John Henry Faulk and Harriet Smith overlap]
Harriet Smith: Chop, and chop, pick cotton. I used to pick, I've pick [unintelligible] here since I been here. I've [unintelligible] pick, pick my five hundred pounds of cotton.
John Henry Faulk:Knock out five hundred pounds.
Harriet Smith:Knock out around five, five hundred pounds of cotton. Then walk across the field and, and hunt watermelons, pomegranates and [laughs]
John Henry Faulk:That's a [unintelligible].
Harriet Smith:Yeah.
John Henry Faulk:Well Aunt Harriet, do you remember church times?
Harriet Smith:Yes, I remember church time. I remember how [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk:You remember during slavery times [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith:Yes, I remember how our folks, they had prayer meeting from one house to another.
John Henry Faulk:Uh, the colored folks.
Harriet Smith:Yes, I think it was [unintelligible]. And over at the houses you know, they'd be in the section, a house, and at different places they'd go and we'd have prayer meeting. Ma and pa and them would go to prayer meeting. And dances too.
John Henry Faulk: And dances too?
Harriet Smith:Yes. I've seen pa and ma dance a many a time.
John Henry Faulk: Is that right? During slavery times?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:Right. My grandma too. My grandma was name R. P.
John Henry Faulk: R. P.
Harriet Smith:Yes. But she belong to the B.'s. [mumbles] That's, that, what she went by, her husband's name. Sure is, that's way back. Now in slavery time, there was my sister, my brother was a slave back. And all of them stayed but me and one, one of the girls and she lives in San Antonio. A. T.
John Henry Faulk: A. T. She, she was your sister?
Harriet Smith: Yes. She's in the young bunch. Sister Ida, and she was the next, brother George and sister Ida and myself were slaves. And the others was born free. And all of them, we the only two in slavery times.
John Henry Faulk: Well I declare. Did you go to meetings? Did you ever go to church?
Harriet Smith: We would go to the big house, prayer meetings you know. We children would put us in the comer you know. We was dared to cut up too.
John Henry Faulk:Is that right?
Harriet Smith:Yes, they'd carry us to prayer meetings.
John Henry Faulk:Well did you go to the white folks' church any?
Harriet Smith:Yes. I went to Mountain City to the white folks' church many a time. You see the white folks would have church in the morning, then they'd let the colored people have church at their church in the evening.
John Henry Faulk:That was during slavery time.
Harriet Smith:During slavery time, yes. During slavery time. I can remember that just as well as [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk: Well what would the preacher preach about in them days?
Harriet Smith:I don't know. I didn't go. He'd preach about you know, maybe something or another.
John Henry Faulk: They didn't preach like they do today?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:No. They wasn't educated, you know, and they uh, uh, would, would tell you how to do, and how to get along, you know, and how to treat the white people and so on. And they'd read the Bible then, you know, [mumbles]. Yeah, I remember all about in slavery time. Ma and them used to go to dances with the white folks.
John Henry Faulk: Well did they treat, did the white folks treat you good? Did you [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith:Why, the B.'s?
John Henry Faulk: Uh huh.
Harriet Smith:They was good to us. Good. They never whipped none of their colored people, our colored people. They'd take big saddle horse, Mrs. B's saddle horse, big gray animal, and she'd have them riding. Grandma would ride to Mountain City to church. They had white preachers there. Mr. P., he was one of the preachers that lived across from us.
John Henry Faulk:Well would the white preacher tell you to behave yourselves and be [Harriet Smith interrupts]
Harriet Smith: Oh yes, they [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk: Be good to your master and mistress?
Harriet Smith: Oh yes. That's what they preach. We, sure, didn't know there was any such thing as God and, and, and God, you know. We thought that was a, a different man, but he was our master. Uh, our white folks, you know, preachers would refer to the white folks, master, and so on that way. Preach that way. Didn't know no better. All of them, all of them would go up there to church. Then after we come to be free, you know, they begin to, preach us, you know. They, we begin to know, you know, there was a God and so on.
John Henry Faulk: Well, well, while you all were slaves did they teach you to read and write?
Harriet Smith: Nuh huh.
John Henry Faulk: Did you all go to school any?
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
Harriet Smith:Nuh huh. Uh, uh, they didn't know nothing about reading and writing. All that I knowed they teach you is mind your master and your mistress.
John Henry Faulk: They sure didn't teach you any reading and writing?
Harriet Smith:No, they didn't. No. When I picked cotton, I remember then picking cotton, farming [John Henry Faulk interrupts]
John Henry Faulk: Well did you ever hear of any slaves being mistreated? That, were there any tales going around in those days about that?
Harriet Smith: Uh, nuh huh, uh, yes, I know of times they, when, when they mistreated people, they did, and I hear our folks talk you know, about them whipping you know, till they had to grease their back to take the holes from the, the back.
John Henry Faulk:Good Lord have mercy.
Harriet Smith:Them white folks were that a way. But them B.'s sure didn't allow their colored people be whipped. Their horses, their saddle horses, Mr. B's saddle horse and ma and pa and them wanted go anywhere, they, they rode their horses and the saddle. Mountain City to church, and the children stayed home [unintelligible]. Then, that on then, from one to another they begin to learn, town preachers in amongst us. They'd have prayer meeting, you know from one house to the other you know how the house, like there's a house sitting here in a section, in line, you know, and people would come to prayer meeting. And then they, Sunday in the evening the white folks would let the preacher preach, let our folks go to their church for preaching.
John Henry Faulk:Well do you remember any of the songs they sang in those days at churches?
Harriet Smith:No. I, I, if I had the books, I could maybe look, look and see. I know they sang the song, they sang the song, "Are We Born to Die?" They'd sing that the colored church.
John Henry Faulk:"Born to Die." How did that go, you know?
Harriet Smith: [mumbles]
John Henry Faulk: Yes, a little louder.
Harriet Smith: Yeah, yeah.
Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith, Hempstead, Texas, 1941
John Henry Faulk: How'd it go?
Harriet Smith: Yeah. They'd sing "Are We Born to Die?" [unintelligible] I was little. I would sit back. I never went much. We children, we stayed at home, parched corn and play you know. Little children. Ma and pa and them and grandma would ride the horses, about two miles from our home, white folks' home, where they stay, and go to the white folks' church. I used to hear them laugh and tell it all the time, you know. We didn't know anything about freedom at all. There was three. There, there was me, and my oldest, next oldest sister and my brother George. He was, uh, [they-they're] all dead. All of them's dead but just two of us.
John Henry Faulk: Well, uh, can you remember when the war was going on?
Harriet Smith: Course I can. I've sat on the fence at the time, me and cousin M., and cousin S., and all of us. Our yard had white picket fence around it. The road went right along by our house like this road goes along by my house. We sat on that, stood on that picket fence. All day long we seen them soldiers going back to San Antonio and different places. I had the [unintelligible] they'd blow them bugles. Them horses was ??? and dancing and all just like that.
John Henry Faulk: Well what do you know.
Harriet Smith:Colored soldiers`.
John Henry Faulk:Colored soldiers?
Harriet Smith: Poor colored soldiers in droves. Went right along by our house. Our home, it was a two story house, the white folk's home, you know. And we stayed on the home until we bought a home, uh, it was over across the creek where we living. [unintelligible]

Why Are Black Communities Disproportionately Effected By Air Pollution?

Systematic oppression comes in many forms, not just the usual job discrimination and lower wages most people hear about. There are more dangerous forms of oppression; such as environmental racism.

It is not a coincidence that so many black communities are located in close proximity to power plants or near oil refineries. Large corporations have a long history of preying on poorer communities because of the lack of political power they hold.

A new study released Tuesday by the advocacy group Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and the NAACP reported that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by health problems associated with air pollution from oil refineries.

According to the study, more than 1 million African-Americans live within half a mile from an oil and gas refinery, while roughly 14% of the black population lives in a county with an oil operation. Considering the fact that black Americans make up only about 14% of the U.S population shows that black communities have a higher risk of being impacted by pollution-related health conditions versus other racial groups and according to the study that number is growing each year.

For example, Houston and Dallas have the highest risk of childhood asthma-related to ozone smog; a by-product of oil and gas facilities. Texas, Ohio, California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma have the largest share of African-American citizens living within areas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers high-risk zones. These are areas within half a mile of active oil processing plants.
The study also expressed concern for black communities as far away as Chicago, D.C., and New York City that are affected by the pollution of oil refineries carried by the wind. Black communities are more apt to be exposed to toxins in the air like benzene, sulfur dioxide, and formaldehyde; which have all been linked to elevated risks of cancer, asthma, and endocrine-disrupting illnesses.  African American children were reported to have been affected by 138,000 asthma attacks resulting in 101,000 lost school days each year.

Another 2017 study by the American Lung Association reported that in 2015 people in Baltimore experienced 89 days of elevated smog, and on 20 of those days it was at unhealthy levels, increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks, and other adverse health impacts. African Americans account for 63 % of Baltimore's population.

Get involved in the fight to rid populated areas of hazardous oil facilities. To find out if your community is located near oil and gas facilities go to and visit to learn how you can join organizations fighting for a healthier environment. Read the full report titled Fumes Across the Fence-Line.

Ex-Slave And Oldest American Charlie Smith Full Interview

The oldest recorded person to ever live in the United States was ex-slave Charlie Smith; who was reported to have died in the year 1979 at the age of 137. Though there was great debate about his actual age, in this 1975 recorded interview he states that he was "144 years old". That would make him 148 years old at the time he died. Listen as he gives his account of what it was like to be kidnapped from Liberia, Africa and made a slave in the United States, and of his life as a U.S. citizen afterward.

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Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
Elmer Sparks: Ready? The following is an interview between Elmer Sparks, Texas ranchman and historian, and, with Charlie Smith, old-time slave of Bartow, Florida. Uh, [voices in the background, background noise will remain throughout the interview] we've already got on the introduction on it.
Charlie Smith: O.K.
Elmer Sparks: Is it turning?
Charlie Smith: Yes.
Elmer Sparks: Uh, Mr. Smith, what is your full name?
Charlie Smith: Charlie Smith.
Elmer Sparks: Charlie Smith.
Charlie Smith: The man that raised me name me Charlie Smith. My first name, first name what my mother name me, is Mitchell, Mitchell Watkins. That's what my mother and father name me, Mitchell Watkins. I was raised in that, uh, born in Africa. And come to the United States. You see that was in slavery time. They sold the colored people. They sold the colored people. And they bringing them from the Africa. And they brought me from Africa. I was a child, a boy. The colored folks want to throw me off the boat coming from Africa. "Throw him overboard!" I was in cuffs. "Throw him overboard, let the damn whale swallow him like he done Jonah." Hadn't have been, the colored one want to throw me off, hadn't have been for L. and the Captain of the boat. L. was a white man and the Captain of the boat was a white man, but the colored is the one wants to throw me off the boat. And D. J., when they bring him from Africa, Liberia Africa, where I was brought from. And put in the United States. Me know, the northern people bought colored folks, put you up on a block and sell you, bid you off. The highest bidder gets you. Highest bidder gets you. Well the northern people bought colored folk and the South bought colored folks. And the northern people didn't carry you with them, colored people to the North. Say that it was too cold for them you know to stand the cold. But they got southern white folks, they got southern white folks to look after them, and they pay the uh, colored, the white folks, southern white folks to look after them. And they got to mistreating them, so. And they come down, the North to the South, first fought a war to free the colored. North
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
and South fought a war. And that was slavery time. And freedom [unintelligible]. I ain't reading for it because I couldn't read. I knowed when it was done. And the man they put you up on a block to sell you, to bid you off. And when they come down here and freed them, they bought the, the North bought the whole state of Louisiana and give it to the colored people for their territory. And make the laws and rules their selves. And the colored people sold their rights, sold out to the white, sold to white. And that freed them, and the North freed them. The North and South fought a war, the first war it was in the United States, North and South fought a war that, that freed the colored people from slavery time. I ain't read for it because I couldn't read. I know it because I raised through it. The colored, the colored people always did hate me from a child. Bringing me from Africa, the colored want to throw me off the boat. "Throw him overboard," cuss. Throw him overboard." Let the, cuss, let the [Elmer Sparks interrupts]
Elmer Sparks: Now how did, how did you come to be on the block, get out and brought over here? Was you brought over by surprise?
Charlie Smith: Yeah, they, they, they brought me over here. The, the, the, the North, the people, sold the colored people.
Elmer Sparks: Did they trick you to get you on the boat?
Charlie Smith: What? They fool you on the boat. They fool the colored people on the boat. I ask my mama could I go down to the boat landing to see that white man. I was raised in Galina, Africa. That was in Africa.
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: That'swhere I was [gotten?] raise, born at, in Africa.
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: And the white folks, didn't no white people stay in Africa, south part of Africa.
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: They stayed in the north part of Africa. And that where they sold the colored people, in the south part of Africa. They put you up on a block and bid you off. And the way they got us on the boat, he said, "Come right in here!" That what they said. "Come in here! Colored in here, all the colored. Over in that country, you don't have to work. If you get hungry, all you got to do go to the fritter tree." Had the fritter tree on the boat, claim that the fritter tree. "You go to the fritter
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
tree." Same thing now we hear people call in the United States, call them pancakes, they call them flitters. And them flitter tree, bore the, the tree bore the flitters, they claim. "Here the flitter tree. It's on the boat." We got on. Carried show us the fritter tree on the boat. "Come on down here!" Called the lower deck on the, on the called the flitter tree. Then he show us the syrup tree. "Here the syrup tree," and it was on the boat, too. "Come on down here!" And the hole on the lower deck on the boat, they keep calling the hatch hole. "Come on down here in that hatch hole!" They showed us something down there. Got down in the hatch hole, we should have felt the boat moving, but we thought we was going back up there to the fritter tree. And they are leaving. And when it landed, it landed in New Orleans. That where the colored people was sold at. Sold. They bringing us from Africa over here, the colored folks want to throw me off. "Throw him overboard, throw him overboard." And the white, Mr. J., Mr. J. say, "Don't you throw tat boy out there!" "Throw him overboard! Goddam, let the damn whale swallow him like he done Jonah." That what they said. Going to throw me off the boat, bringing me from Africa in the United States. That was when we had the slavery. Just put you on the block and sell you. Put you on a stage, but well they called it a block. Put you up on a stage. Than man would buy you. The highest bidder gets you. Bid on you. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]
Elmer Sparks: I've heard of that.
Charlie Smith: The highest bidder gets you. He'll carry you to his plantation. Put another one up there. Me highest bid, which ever one bid, gives the most, he'll carry him to his plant, that the white, in the South. And they went to mistreating the, the colored. Getting children by the colored women. And all such as that, getting colored. And the white find it out, how they was treating them. They hurt them. And they come down here, the first war ever was in the United States was the North and South fought a war to free the colored.
Elmer Sparks: And who was it that bought you? Do you remember who bought you?
Charlie Smith: Bought me?
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: Oh. I was in, in uh, when they went to New Orleans, that's where they sold the people. The man that raised me, he didn't buy me. The man raised me. They would try to put you up on the block to sell you. He was Jake. The man was Jake. He name me. that's the name I go in now. Charlie Smith. He name me. When he, uh, I uh when he took me. He raised me, in Texas, Galveston, Texas where I was raised in. And the man that raised me, he name Charlie Smith, and that's the name he give me. He gave me Charlie Smith. And always teach me and his children. He treated me just like
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
he treated his children, in everything, not one thing, everything. We ate together, we slept together. All the boys now, we just talking not about the women now. All we the boys slept together. I was, uh, raised with a cattleman. Charlie Smith raised me. He had all kind of cattle. And all of us toted pistols and something to shoot. And I was the only colored cowboy. I got on a cowboy shirt now that I brought from Texas. Been have it all of my days. I was raised up a cowboy. I was the only cowboy [record skips], colored cowboy he had, was in Texas. His name was Charlie Smith. And he always teach me and his children, anything you got to have don't never let it give out. He say, "And enjoy your money when you living. You can't carry none of it with you when you dead." He said millionaires die and leave all they got. Everything they got, they ain't carry nothing with them. And that, his name was Charlie Smith and he name me Charlie Smith. And he always told me don't change my name. And when he died, all us, he had three, uh, three or four of them, [unintelligible]. He didn't put no money in no bank. He had these little old money safes. People tell me, people got them now in some places, in the house, you know. He had two, two in the drugstore, in the dry goods store, and two in the grocery store. That made four. That where he kept his money and all us cowboys' money, what we didn't tote. We, all cowboys wore boots. Half a leg boots, knee, what they call knee boots that come clean to your knees. Well, we toted our, what he didn't keep for us, we toted in our boots. And I was the only colored cowboy he had. All the rest of them white. We toted pistols and rifles. We carried them, we carried them. We killed bears and panthers and things like that, what was eating up the stock. He was a cattleman. He had plenty of cattle. And all them animals, bears and panthers and things like that and lions, they'd eat up the little pigs and real young stuff. That's what [we makes (?)], the cowboys was carrying their pistols and rifles, to kill them.
Elmer Sparks: Now what did you do after the slaves were free? After you was with him [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith: With him ....
Elmer Sparks: Yeah, you just went ahead a working huh?
Charlie Smith: [mumbles] When they freed the colored, we just stay. The man would. [clears his voice] When they freed the colored, they, they bought the whole state of Louisiana and give it over to the colored people for their territory to make their laws and rules. And the colored people sold their rights. All that ??? and property, anything, they have to get it approved by the white. Now, that's the way it was done. They ain't got no, can't make no laws, can't make no rules. If they make them, the white let them have it. They sold out.
Elmer Sparks: Now after he died down then, where did you go then?
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
Charlie Smith: After who died?
Elmer Sparks: After this Charlie Smith.
Charlie Smith: He ain't dead.
Elmer Sparks: Well I mean the one [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith:Oh, he dead all right, but where I went, I went, he sold the colored folks. After free, after he sold the colored people. After slavery, slavery time, they sold the colored folks.
Elmer Sparks: Well did you go out in the [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith: And, and, and the first war was in the, in the, the North and the South fought a war. The North bought colored people, and the South bought colored folks, and, and in the North they got the, the Southern white folks to look after them and to take care of them. They wouldn't carry them north, say it was too cold for them, and got the southern white folks to look after them. And the Southern white folks was uh, went to mistreating them.
Elmer Sparks: Did, did, did you go out West then or stay there? [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]
Charlie Smith: No, I wasn't in the West. I wasn't in the West [mumbles]. I was in the West when they freed them.
Elmer Sparks: That's what I mean, after they freed them.
Charlie Smith: Yeah, after they freed them I was in the West. That was when we call old man Charlie. When they went to selling them. He'd object, selling, uh, selling me. Put you up on a block, he'd object. Because he rule that part of Texas. He was a cattleman. And they rule that part of Galveston. He rule that part, and what he, he said, he, he, went. [Elmer Sparks interrupts then Charlie Smith continues] And when they want, want to sell me, put me on, on the block, and then he project. And they didn't do it. And he raise me. Carried me to his house. And ame. He name me Charlie. His name was Charlie and he name me Charlie. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith talk at once and Charlie Smith continues].
Charlie Smith: That's the name he give me, that's the name. My name what my mother and father name, my name Mitchell, Mitchell Watkins. But he sold me and he got me, and he name me Charlie. That's the name I go in. And when he, he died, he died. And when he died he always teach me and
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
his children. Didn't teach us one thing, he teach us all. He say, "Anything you got to have, don't never let it give out." He say, "Enjoy your money when you living, because you can't carry none of it with you when you dead. Enjoy your money when you living." He teach us that all the time. And I didn't go to school much. Because I thought I hadn't been, when you [used to ?] toting those pistols and nothing to shoot with, and I was so full of loading my pistols and rifles I had to carry, and, and didn't learn anything else. But I was the only colored boy. All his cowboys was white. We all ate together, we slept together, and everything. Wasn't no difference in the treatment at all. None. Old man Charlie.
Elmer Sparks: Did you, did you move up to Mississippi? Didn't you go to Mississippi? Eventually?
Charlie Smith: Oh, I been all over, all the way down [Elmer Sparks interrupts Charlie Smith].
Elmer Sparks: You, you worked, you worked in Mississippi didn't you?
Charlie Smith: I'm a, I'm a state man mister. I work for the United States. I go get bad people. I'm a state man and will as long as I live. Here my folders right here . I'm a state man. I'm the man went with, me and Billy the Kid, the man went and got the man kill the President. And the state name me. I got three name. The United States, I work for the United States now.
[ Pause]. Name me "Trigger Kid." Me and Billy the Kid, went and got the man kill the President, went and got him. Had a five hundred dollar reward, anybody go get him. He kill the President. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield the first President ever was killed of the United States. And the man killed him name Guiteau and went back over in his state where he come from.
Elmer Sparks: That was Charles Guiteau wasn't it?
Charlie Smith: And when they, put out the five hundred dollar reward anybody would go get him. There was six men right at the line of the states. You had to get your authorities from them to go over there. Everybody go over there and get them five hundred dollars, them mens would kill them. Kill them. [unintelligible] They'd kill you. If you go over there and get that man, the man done the killing, he went back in that state because that was the state he was born and raised in. And there's six men right at the line of the United States. You, you, you had to get authorities from them to go any further in that state, state. And they done it, and we, me and Billy the Kid, they sent us over there. This United States name me "Trigger Kid," but that's a name I've hated. I been working for the United, I work for the United States now. If you bad, I get all bad people. That's my job now. White or black. If you be do the wrong thing, and they send me after you, only reason I won't get you, I won't see you. They send us after him. The man kill the President. [recording stops briefly then interview starts up again]
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
Elmer Sparks: You then, you picked some fruit didn't you? You done follow the fruit picking?
Charlie Smith: Oh I've done all kinds.
Elmer Sparks: Yeah, yeah. You ....
Charlie Smith: Here, right here. Here, here, here's, here my picture. Me and this man, that's my, my picture, and that's my age, and this [unintelligible]. That's a white man. Me and him was the two oldest people in the world at that time. I was standing at the County Court [unintelligible]. There it is right there. And I, I, I ,was picking fruit. [unintelligible] Yeah. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]
Elmer Sparks: They told me you, they told me you were a picking fruit when you was a hundred and thirteen. Is that right?
Charlie Smith: Oh right, don't you see?
Elmer Sparks: Uh, I see.
Charlie Smith: That's it. That's if I tell folks that, that's the reason the state printed and sent to me to show people.
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: In United States. I might be work for the United States now. I'm a state man. I work for the United States. I go get bad people. White or black. Don't care how old, who you is. If I got, if you do the wrong thing I go, I'm a United States man as long as I live.
Elmer Sparks: Uh, were you, uh, interviewed by Robert Ripley? Do you remember that, Robert Ripley?
Charlie Smith: Robert ???.
Elmer Sparks: Ripley. He's right there. That's [unintelligible].
Charlie Smith: Well I remember all, all bad people. I remember them white or black.
Elmer Sparks: This Ripley's the man you're pictured with there Charlie.
Charlie Smith: Yeah, yeah. Yeah that's him. That's the reason I carry it. I show it to people. Me and this man was the two oldest people in the world, and required us to meet. That's a white man. And
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
the state name me "Trigger Kid." Me and Billy the Kid went and got the man kill the President then. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield was the President of the United States.
Elmer Sparks: He, he, he, he would know, and I've read about it.
Charlie Smith: And, and, and we were, he killed him. Guiteau. Killed Garfield. And, uh, and uh, everybody go over there to get him, for them five hundred dollars, they kill them. There was six men right at the line of the states. And then everybody go over there to get the man what kill, killed the President. That's what state he was raised in, the man done the killing. He'd go back in that state. See, that's the state he was born and raised in.
Elmer Sparks: Do you remember what state that was Charlie?
Charlie Smith: Where?
Elmer Sparks: The state where this, where this Garfield went back in, Guiteau.
Charlie Smith: Yeah, I don't know. I don't remember because I forgot it now. But I
know he went back in the [Elmer Sparks interrupts]
Elmer Sparks: [unintelligible - names states]
Charlie Smith: Yeah, yeah. He went, went back in the state he was, he was born and raised in. And the, when he got to, to kill the man, he went back in that state. Well there was six mens there at the line, at uh Baltimore. Six men was killing everybody going there to get him, after this man went down to kill him. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield is the first President ever was kill of the United States.
Elmer Sparks: They wrote a book about it, you know.
Charlie Smith: And Guiteau killed him and went back in that state what he was born and raised in. And anybody that went there over there to get him, them six mens was there at the line, they'd, they'd kill them. And they killed them, and they sent me and Billy the Kid. The state name me "Trigger Kid," and Billy the Kid, that was a white man. We went over there, just ride up there, and, said, "Hi, where you going?" They bring them six men. Call them six mens hooking bulls. They had to get authorities from them to go any further in that state. "Where you going?" "Going across the desert." "All right, you get authority form us. You got authority?" So we cuss. Say, "We got authority. We got authority from the United States." Showed them this, "Here it is. And here our, here our god, and here our goddamn authorities." that's what we told to them six men. Call them six men hooking
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
bulls. We ride on. "All right, go ahead!" Said, "We damn sure going." Ride on off. Got to the camp, with a guard. Told us they want to search. Guards all come to, guards that, that was there. "Y'all come by the hooking bulls?" We cuss. Say, "We come by some damn bull or another." "Well you got authorities from the hooking bull to search. The boss of the camp ain't here. [Elmer Sparks talks in the background] The boss of the camp ain't here." He said, "If you want to search, the boss of the camp ain't here, and the guards was there." [Elmer Sparks talks in the background] The guards was there. [unintelligible].
Elmer Sparks: Well, uh, coming back to the uh, modern day, or later. Did the Social Security people, did they come see you?
Charlie Smith: Social Security?
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: Yeah.
Elmer Sparks: They did. And, you remember how old you were then?
Charlie Smith: The man raised me, yeah, the man raised me. The man that raised me name, give me the name I got. Charlie Smith.
Elmer Sparks: Well I mean [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith: I was raised in Galveston, Texas.
Elmer Sparks: Well I mean later, later, then uh, uh. Were you about a hundred and thirteen when they Social Security people come and say [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith: [Charlie Smith is quite irritated here] Well don't you, I done show it to you. There it is, down there.
Elmer Sparks: That's what I'm trying, that's what I'm trying to say. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]
Charlie Smith: I done showed it to you.
Elmer Sparks: And you're not [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
Charlie Smith: Keep on asking them question, that's the reason I showed it to you. I show it to you. My age, yeah, I'm older now than I was then. I'm older now. I'm a hundred and forty-four, last, last year, fourth of July. A hundred and forty-four years old now. My birthday, I gets a birthday card, I'm a hundred and forty-four last fourth day of July, last year. I'm a hundred and forty-four.
Elmer Sparks: And you don't, you don't wear glasses.
Charlie Smith: No, I ain't never wore none.
Elmer Sparks: And you don't wear a hearing aid, is that it?
Charlie Smith: I got hearing. I hear just as good now as I ever been hearing.
Elmer Sparks: Oh, I believe that.
Charlie Smith: I can see good as I ever have. The United States takes care of me. The United States. If I, if they send me direction, only reason I don't get you, I don't see you. I'm the man straightened up [unintelligible, a place]. Sent me there. Colored people didn't pass through there. You could go up-town but you couldn't stay in [unintelligible]. I straighten it up. The state sent me there to straighten it. Now the colored people own property there. Right between here and [unintelligible place]. The colored porter couldn't get off the train there. White folks didn't allow him to get off the [train?] colored porter on the train couldn't get off there. The state sent me there, to straighten it up. I straightened it so the colored folks can get off there. Now colored, colored people own, own property in, in [unintelligible - place]. I had to go to near [unintelligible - place]. Sign was printed up there right at the depot. What the sign say, "Read Nigger And Run. That what was on the sign. The state sent me there. Say, "Go tear that sign down." Said, "If you need any help, let us know that." I went there. The sign was right up there, right at the depot. Said, "Read Nigger And Run." He say, he ask me, "You, you got authority?" I said, "Yeah. I got authority." "Present your authorities." "Here my goddamn authorities, and here my help. These forty-fives." I tore it down. At, at, at [unintelligible place]. I tore it down. Anywhere the states tell me to go and do, I does it. Now. Always did ever since I been working for the ???, I been working for the United States a hundred years. But I'm grown older now.
Elmer Sparks: Do you belong to the Mason Lodge?
Charlie Smith: Yes. I was made a Mason. I been, first time I got old enough, I was put in it. The man that raised me put me in the Masons. I been a Mason hundred years. If I wasn't a Mason I couldn't join [unintelligible]. And you, and any other man get my age, any, anybody white or black. You can
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
get too old to join the Masons. You can get too young to join. I, I got old enough, the man put me in the Mason. Old man Charlie. He put me in the Mason. If I weren't one, I couldn't go, that's that's in the ring, but just the set dropped out of it. The square and compass. He dropped that out, out [Elmer Sparks interrupts]
Elmer Sparks: Well I'm a Mason.
Charlie Smith: That was this ring that, that the set was in that ring, and it dropped out. I was been a Mason a hundred years. Old man Charlie put me in the Mason. I'm the first colored man ever to be made a Mason in the United States, in Louisville. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap] If I weren't nary one, not only me, nobody my age. You can get too old to join the Mason. And you can get too young to join the Mason. If I weren't nary one now, I couldn't be, because I'm too old. And anybody my age, white or black, you can't join the Masons you that age. I know it. I been a Mason a hundred year. I know Mason.
Elmer Sparks: And you're speaking of cowboys, we're, we're both cowboys. We're right out of the [Charlie Smith interrupts]
Charlie Smith: Oh yeah, I'm the only colored cowboy old man Charlie had. He had plenty cowboys, but I was the only one he had. He raise me.
Elmer Sparks: How many were there in your family originally?
Charlie Smith: Oh in my, my family?
Elmer Sparks: Yeah.
Charlie Smith: Oh do [Elmer Sparks interrupts]
Elmer Sparks: Your mother and your children and your sisters.
Charlie Smith: I, I didn't have but uh, one brother and two sisters, three sisters with the baby sister. My two oldest sisters was, uh, one of them was name, one of them was, both of them was married all right. My oldest one, my baby sister, she just a little old kid. She's the baby of all us children. I had one brother. His name was Simon Watkins. My name, what my mama and daddy name me, Mitchell Watkins. The name where, the one that name me, Charlie Smith, that's the white man raised me, in Texas. Charlie Smith. And he treated me just; like he treated his children. In everything. We ate together, slept together. Yeah. And when he died [slight pause]
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975
Elmer Sparks: Well, uh
Charlie Smith: People bragged on preachers. So good and so honest and all like that. When he died, I give them the money, to a preacher, to preacher [i.e., people] bragged on preachers. I give my money to preachers because I, I didn't want to take it myself. All the cowboys toted it, wore boots and what money they, old man Charlie didn't keep for us, we kept it ourselves in our boots. And I was the only colored cowboy. We all ride together. We all ate together. And not at one time, all the time. And I was treated just like one of the white.
Elmer Sparks: Did you, did you, were, see, you worked in, in Mississippi at one time did you?
Charlie Smith: Oh yeah. I worked everywhere I went. I, when they took that picture there was took, I was standing right down over there over there toward Auburndale. When that picture was took. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap] Sent us, sent us to Denver, Colorado.
Elmer Sparks: Is that I wonder if we haven't about covered this, and we'll take some pictures. That all right? And so, thank you and we will take some pictures here.

Audio Recording Of Ex-Slave Fountain Hughes Unedited

Fountain Hughes was born a slave in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1848. He gained freedom at age 17 after the Civil War in 1865. Hughes was 101 years of age at the time of this recording; which was done by U.S. Library of Congress in 1949.  Listen as he gives us his wisdom, financial advise, and a vivid description of what slavery was like for him.

The transcript of this recording can be found below.

Show/Hide Transcript


Fountain Hughes: Talk to who?

Hermond Norwood: Well, just tell me what your name is.

Fountain Hughes: My name is Fountain Hughes. I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. My grandfather belong to Thomas Jefferson. My grandfather was a hundred and fifteen years old when he died. And now I am one hundred and, and one year old. That's enough. [recording stops and starts again]. She used to work, but what she made I don't know. I never ask her.

Hermond Norwood: You just go ahead and talk away there. You don't mind, do you, Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: No. And when, now, your husband and you both are young. You all try to live like young people ought to live. Don't want everything somebody else has got. Whatever you get, if its yours be satisfied. And don't spend your money till you get it. So many people get in debt. Well, that all was so cheap when I bought it. You spend your money before you get it because you're going in debt for what you want. When you want something, wait until you get the money and pay for it cash. That's the way I've done. If I've wanted anything, I'd wait until I got the money and I paid for it cash. I never bought nothing on time in my life. Now plenty people if they want a suit of clothes, they go to work and they'll buy them on time. Well they say they was cheap. They cheap. If you got the money you can buy them cheaper. They want something for, for waiting on you for, uh, till you get ready to pay them. And if you got the money you can go where you choose and buy it when you go, when you want it. You see? Don't buy it because somebody else go down and run a debt and run a bill or, I'm going to run it too. Don't do that. I never done it. Now, I'm a hundred years old and I don't owe nobody five cents, and I ain't got no money either. And I'm happy, just as happy as somebody that's oh, got million. Nothing worries me. I'm not, my head ain't even white. I, nothing in the world worries me. I can sit here in this house at night, nobody can come and say, "Mr. Hughes, you owe me a quarter, you owe me a dollar, you owe me five cents." No you can't. I don't owe you nothing. Why? I never made no bills in my life. And I'm living too. And I'm a hundred years old. And if you take my advice today, you'll never make a bill. Because what you want, give your money, pay them cash, and then the rest of the money is yours. But if you run a bill they, well, so much and so much and you don't have to pay. Nothing down it's, it's all when you come to pay. It's all, you don't have to pay no more. But they, they'll, they'll charge you more. They getting something or other or else they wouldn't trust you. But I can't just say what they getting. But they getting something or other else they wouldn't want your credit. Now I tell you that anybody that trusts you for two dollars or have a account with them by the month or by the week, store count or any account. They're getting something out of it. Else they don't want to accommodate you that much to trust you. Now, if I want, course I ain't got no clothes, but if I want some clothes, I, I ain't got no money, I'm going to wait till I get the money to buy them. Indeed I am. I'm not a going to say because I can get them on trust, I go down and get them. I got to pay a dollar more anyhow. But either they charge you more or they say taxes are so much. But if I've got the money to pay cash, I'll pay the taxes and all down in cash, you know. It's all done with. So many of colored people is head over heels in debt. Trust me trust. I'll get it on time. They want a set of furniture, go down and pay down so much and the rest on time. You done paid that, you done paid for them then. When you pay down so much and they charge you fifty dollar, hundred dollars for a set and you pay down twenty-five dollars cash, you done paid them. That's all it was worth, twenty-five dollars, and you pay, now you, I'm seventy-five dollars in debt now. Because I, I have to pay a hundred dollars for that set, and it's only worth about twenty-five dollar. But you buying it on time. But people ain't got sense enough to know it. But when you get old like I am, you commence to think, well, I have done wrong. I should have kept my money until I wanted this thing, and when I want it, I take my money and go pay cash for it. Or else I will do without it. That's supposing you want a new dress. You say, well I'll, I'll buy it, but, uh, I don't need it. But I can get it on time. Well let's go down the store today and get something on time. Well you go down and get a dress on time. Something else in there, I want that. They'll sell that to you on time. You won't have to pay nothing down. But there's a payday coming. And when that payday comes, they want you come pay them. If you don't, they can't get no more. Well, if you never do that, if you don't start it, you will never end it. I never did buy nothing on time. I must tell you on this, I'm sitting right here now today, and if I's the last word I've got to tell you, I never even much as tried to buy a, a shirt on time. And plenty people go to work, go down to the store and buy uh, three and four dollars for a shirt. Two, three uh, seven, eight dollars for a pair of pants. Course they get them on time. I don't, no, no, no. I say, I got, I buy something for five dollars. Because I got the five dollars, I'll pay for it. I'm done with that.

Hermond Norwood: You talk about how old you are Uncle Fountain. Do you, tell how far back do you remember?

Fountain Hughes: I remember [pause]. Well I'll tell you, uh. Things come to me in spells, you know. I remember things, uh, more when I'm laying down than I do when I'm standing or when I'm walking around. Now in my boy days, why, uh, boys lived quite different from the way they live now. But boys wasn't as mean as they are now either. Boys lived to, they had a good time. The masters di, didn't treat them bad. And they was always satisfied. They never wore no shoes until they was twelve or thirteen years old. And now people put on shoes on babies you know, when they're two year, when they month old. I be, I don't know how old they are. Put shoes on babies. Just as soon as you see them out in the street they got shoes on. I told a woman the other day, I said, "I never had no shoes till I was thirteen years old." She say, "Well but you bruise your feet all up, and stump your toes." I say, "Yes, many time I've stump my toes, and blood run out them. That didn't make them buy me no shoes." And I been, oh, oh you wore a dress like a woman till I was, I [be-believe [?] ten, twelve, thirteen years old.

Hermond Norwood: So you wore a dress.

Fountain Hughes: Yes. I didn't wear no pants, and of course didn't make boys' pants. Boys wore dresses. Now only womens wearing the dresses and the boys is going with the, with the womens wearing the pants now and the boys wearing the dresses. Still [laughs].

Hermond Norwood: Who did you work for Uncle Fountain when ... ?

Fountain Hughes: Who'd I work for?

Hermond Norwood: Yeah.

Fountain Hughes: When I, you mean when I was slave?

Hermond Norwood: Yeah, when you were a slave. Who did you work for?

Fountain Hughes: Well, I belonged to, uh, B., when I was a slave. My mother belonged to B. But my, uh, but, uh, we, uh, was all slave children. And after, soon after when we found out that we was free, why then we was, uh, bound out to different people. [names of people] and an all such people as that. And we would run away, and wouldn't stay with them. Why then we'd just go and stay anywheres we could. Lay out a night in underwear. We had no home, you know. We was just turned out like a lot of cattle. You know how they turn cattle out in a pasture? Well after freedom, you know, colored people didn't have nothing. Colored people didn't have no beds when they was slaves. We always slept on the floor, pallet here, and a pallet there. Just like, uh, lot of, uh, wild people, we didn't, we didn't know nothing. Didn't allow you to look at no book. And then there was some free born colored people, why they had a little education, but there was very few of them, where we was. And they all had uh, what you call, I might call it now, uh, jail centers, was just the same as we was in jail. Now I couldn't go from here across the street, or I couldn't go through nobody's house without I have a note, or something from my master. And if I had that pass, that was what we call a pass, if I had that pass, I could go wherever he sent me. And I'd have to be back, you know, when uh. Whoever he sent me to, they, they'd give me another pass and I'd bring that back so as to show how long I'd been gone. We couldn't go out and stay a hour or two hours or something like. They send you. Now, say for instance I'd go out here to S.'s place. I'd have to walk. And I would have to be back maybe in a hour. Maybe they'd give me hour. I don't know just how long they'd give me. But they'd give me a note so there wouldn't nobody interfere with me, and tell who I belong to. And when I come back, why I carry it to my master and give that to him, that'd be all right. But I couldn't just walk away like the people does now, you know. It was what they call, we were slaves. We belonged to people. They'd sell us like they sell horses and cows and hogs and all like that. Have a auction bench, and they'd put you on, up on the bench and bid on you just same as you bidding on cattle you know.

Hermond Norwood: Was that in Charlotte that you were a slave?

Fountain Hughes: Hmmm?

Hermond Norwood: Was that in Charlotte or Charlottesville?

Fountain Hughes: That was in Charlottesville.

Hermond Norwood: Charlottesville, Virginia.

Fountain Hughes: Selling women, selling men. All that. Then if they had any bad ones, they'd sell them to the nigga traders, what they called the nigga traders. And they'd ship them down south, and sell them down south. But, uh, otherwise if you was a good, good person they wouldn't sell you. But if you was bad and mean and they didn't want to beat you and knock you around, they'd sell you what to the, what was call the nigga trader. They'd have a regular, have a sale every month, you know, at the courthouse. And then they'd sell you, and get two hundred dollar, hundred dollar, five hundred dollar.

Hermond Norwood: Were you ever sold from one person to another?

Fountain Hughes: Mmmm?

Hermond Norwood: Were you ever sold?

Fountain Hughes: No, I never was sold.

Hermond Norwood: Always stayed with the same person. [Hermond Norwood and Fountain Hughes overlap)

Fountain Hughes: All, all. I was too young to sell.

Hermond Norwood: Oh I see.

Fountain Hughes: See I wasn't old enough during the war to sell, during the Army. And uh, my father got killed in the Army, you know. So it left us small children just to live on whatever people choose to, uh, give us. I was, I was bound out for a dollar a month. And my mother used to collect the money. Children wasn't, couldn't spend money when I come along. In, in, in fact when I come along, young men, young men couldn't spend no money until they was twenty-one years old. And then you was twenty-one, why then you could spend your money. But if you wasn't twenty-one, you couldn't spend no money. I couldn't take, I couldn't spend ten cents if somebody give it to me. Because they'd say, "Well, he might have stole it." We all come along, you might say, we had to give an account of what you done. You couldn't just do things and walk off and say I didn't do it. You'd have to, uh, give an account of it. Now, uh, after we got freed and they turned us out like cattle, we could, we didn't have nowhere to go. And we didn't have nobody to boss us, and, uh, we didn't know nothing. There wasn't, wasn't no schools. And when they started a little school, why, the people that were slaves, there couldn't many of them go to school, except they had a father and a mother. And my father was dead, and my mother was living, but she had three, four other little children, and she had to put them all to work for to help take care of the others. So we had, uh, we had what you call, worse than dogs has got it now. Dogs has got it now better than we had it when we come along. I know, I remember one night, I was out after I, I was free, and I didn't have nowhere to go. I didn't have nowhere to sleep. I didn't know what to do. My brother and I was together. So we knew a man that had a, a livery stable. And we crept in that yard, and got into one of the hacks of the automobile, and slept in that hack all night long. So next morning, we could get out and go where we belonged. But we was afraid to go at night because we didn't know where to go, and didn't know what time to go. But we had got away from there, and we afraid to go back, so we crept in, slept in that thing all night until the next morning, and we got back where we belong before the people got up. Soon as day commenced, come, break, we got out and commenced to go where we belonged. But we never done that but the one time. After that we always, if there, if there was a way, we'd try to get back before night come. But then that was on a Sunday too, that we done that. Now, uh, when we were slaves, we couldn't do that, see. And after we got free we didn't know nothing to do. And my mother, she, then she hunted places, and bound us out for a dollar a month, and we stay there maybe a couple of years. And, she'd come over and collect the money every month. And a dollar was worth more then than ten dollars is now. And I, and the men used to work for ten dollars a month, hundred and twenty dollars a year. Used to hire that a way. And, uh, now you can't get a man for, fifty dollars a month. You paying a man now fifty dollars a month, he don't want to work for it.

Hermond Norwood: More like fifty dollars a week now a days.

Fountain Hughes: [laughs] That's just it exactly. He wants fifty dollars a week and they ain't got no more now than we had then. And we, no more money, but course they bought more stuff and more property and all like that. We didn't have no property. We didn't have no home. We had nowhere or nothing. We didn't have nothing only just, uh, like your cattle, we were just turned out. And uh, get along the best you could. Nobody to look after us. Well, we been slaves all our lives. My mother was a slave, my sisters was slaves, father was a slave.

Hermond Norwood: Who was you father a slave for Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: He was a slave for B. He belong, he belong to B.

Hermond Norwood: Didn't he belong to Thomas Jefferson at one time?

Fountain Hughes: He didn't belong to Thomas Jefferson. My grandfather belong to

Thomas Jefferson.

Hermond Norwood: Oh your grandfather did.

Fountain Hughes: Yeah. And, uh, my father belong to, uh, B. And, uh, and B. died during the wartime because, uh, he was afraid he'd have to go to war. But, then now, you, and in them days you could hire a substitute to take your place. Well he couldn't get a substitute to take his place so he run away from home. And he took cold. And when he come back, the war was over but he died. And then, uh, if he had lived, couldn't been no good. The Yankees just come along and, just broke the mill open and hauled all the flour out in the river and broke the, broke the store open and throwed all the meat out in the street and throwed all the sugar out. And we, we boys would pick it up and carry it and give it to our missus and master, young masters, told we come to be, well I don't know how old. I don't know, to tell you the truth when I think of it today, I don't know how I'm living. None, none of the rest of them that I know of is living. I'm the oldest one that I know that's living. But, still, I'm thankful to the Lord. Now, if, uh, if my master wanted send me, he never say, you couldn't get a horse and ride. You walk, you know, you walk. And you be barefooted and collapse. That didn't make no difference. You wasn't no more than a dog to some of them in them days. You wasn't treated as good as they treat dogs now. But still I didn't like to talk about it. Because it makes, makes people feel bad you know. Uh, I, I could say a whole lot I don't like to say. And I won't say a whole lot more.

Hermond Norwood: Do you remember much about the Civil War?

Fountain Hughes: No, I don't remember much about it.

Hermond Norwood: You were a little young then I guess, huh.

Fountain Hughes: I, uh, I remember when the Yankees come along and took all the good horses and took all the, throwed all the meat and flour and sugar and stuff out in the river and let it go down the river. And they knowed the people wouldn't have nothing to live on, but they done that. And that's the reason why I don't like to talk about it. Them people, and, and if you was cooking anything to eat in there for yourself, and if they, they was hungry, they would go and eat it all up, and we didn't get nothing. They'd just come in and drink up all your milk, milk. Just do as they please. Sometimes they be passing by all night long, walking, muddy, raining. Oh, they had a terrible time. Colored people that's free ought to be awful thankful. And some of them is sorry they are free now. Some of them now would rather be slaves.

Hermond Norwood: Which had you rather be Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: Me? Which I'd rather be ? [Norwood laughs]You know what I'd rather do? If I thought, had any idea, that I'd ever be a slave again, I'd take a gun and just end it all right away. Because you're nothing but a dog. You're not a thing but a dog. Night never comed out, you had nothing to do. Time to cut tobacco, if they want you to cut all night long out in the field, you cut. And if they want you to hang all night long, you hang, hang tobacco. It didn't matter about your tired, being tired. You're afraid to say you're tired. They just, well [voice trails off].

Hermond Norwood: When, when did you come to Baltimore?

Fountain Hughes: You know when, you don't remember when Garfield died, do you? When they, when they shot Garfield? No, I don't think you was born.

Hermond Norwood: I don't think I was then.

Fountain Hughes: No, you wasn't [overlaps with Hermond Norwood]. Well, I don't remember what year that was myself now, but I know you wasn't born. Well, I come to Baltimore that year anyhow. I don't remember what year it was now myself. But if I laid, if I was laying in the bed I could have remembered. But uh, I don't remember now.

Hermond Norwood: But did you go to work for Mr. S. when you came to Baltimore?

Fountain Hughes: Oh no, no. I work for a man by the name of R. when I first come to Baltimore. I used to, I commence to haul manure for him. The old horses was here then. No elec, and no electric cars, and no cable cars. They were all horse cars. And I used to haul manure, go around to different stables, you know. Why people, everybody had horses for, for their use when I first come here. They had coachmen, and men to drive them around. Didn't have no, automobiles, they hadn't been here so long. And uh, and then they put on a cable car, what they call cable car. Well they run them for a little while, or maybe a couple or three years or four years. Then somebody invented the electric car. And that first run on North Avenue. Well, uh, that run a while and they kep't on inventing and inventing till they got them all, different kinds of cars, you know. It was, uh, horse cars. Wasn't no electric cars at all. Wasn't no, wasn' no big cars like they got now you know. I just can't, I just can't think of, uh, what year it was. But uh, [pause and then some ambiguous conversation]

Hermond Norwood: You're not getting tired are you Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: No, no I ain't. I'm just same as at home. Just like I was setting in the house. And uh, see what. I was thinking about oh, now you know how we served the Lord when I come along, a boy?

Hermond Norwood: How was that?

Fountain Hughes: We would go to somebody's house. And uh, well we didn't have no houses like they got now, you know. We had these what they call log cabin. And they have one, old colored man maybe one would be there, maybe he'd be as old as I am. And he'd be the preacher. Not as old as I am now, but, he'd be the preacher, and then we all sit down and listen at him talk about the Lord. Well, he'd say, well I wonder, uh, sometimes you say I wonder if we'll ever be free. Well, some of them would say, well, we going to go ask the Lord to free us. So they'd say, well, we, we going to sing "One Day Shall I Ever Reach Heaven and One Day Shall I Fly." Then they would sing that for about a hour. Then they, next one they'd get up and say let's sing a song, "We Gonna Live on Milk and Honey, Way By and By." They'd, they'd, oh I can hear them singing now but I can't, can't, uh, repeat it like I could in them days. But some day when I'm not hoarse, I could tell you, I could sing it for you, but I'm too hoarse now. And then we'd sing, [pause] "I'm Gonna," "I'm A-Gonna Sing Around the Altar." Oh, I, I wish I could, I wish I could sing it for you, "I'm Gonna Sing Around the Altar."

Hermond Norwood: Well I wish you could too. [overlaps with Fountain Hughes].

Fountain Hughes: And they, they, well this, someday when you come over here and I'm not hoarse, you get me to come up here and I, I'll sing, I'll try to sing it for you.

Hermond Norwood: O. K. I'm going to do that.

Fountain Hughes: This is the. Now, I heard, people here now sing about "Roll Jordan Roll." Well that's a old time, that's what the old people used to sing in old back days.

Hermond Norwood: Is that "Roll Jordan Roll?"

Fountain Hughes: Yeah. But they don't sing it like the old people used to sing it in them day. They sing it quite different now. [pause] And, and another one they sing, "By and By When the Morning Come." Well they sing that different too. But the old, they're getting the old people's song. I hear them come over the radio. I know them all just as good as they, but they sing them different.

Hermond Norwood: Have different names to some of them, huh?

Fountain Hughes: [overlaps with Hermond Norwood] Yes. Well they cut them off shorter and all like that. It's a, if I had my voice, I would sing just one for you so you go in that [unclear] but I can't do it on account of my voice. But someday you come over here, you come in, you call me up and let me know and how my voice is. Ever since I took that medicine from my doctor, well it hurt my voice. I, I, I, now there was a preacher in my house the other night, he live right next door to me, and he played on the piano. And he played something and I sung it for him. And now he wants me to go down to his church next Sunday. I told him, I says, "Now if I go down to your church, I'll not sing nothing. Because if I do I'll get ho, hoarse I can't talk." But he said, "Brother Hughes, I don't care whether you sing or not. I just want you to go down there and let the people see who you are. Let them see what a, what a old people is." I said, "Well uh, Reverend, why I'll, I'll be glad to go down with you." So, on next Sunday I'm going down to his church if I living, and nothing happen. But if he, if he sing something old, I, I, [laughs].

Hermond Norwood: Just sing along.

Fountain Hughes: [Becomes excited, slapping noise in background] I feel, I feel the spirit now, but I can't, I got to keep quiet. Now you, do you ever hear this fellow that comes over the radio? I think they call him H. Comes on Sunday night about twelve o'clock, on WFBR?

Hermond Norwood: No I don't know whether I've ever heard him or not.

Fountain Hughes: Well I, you turn him on. He comes on a quarter after eleven, on Sunday night. Well, you, you must have heard him cause he says, "Can't uh, can't, can't keep a good man down." So, it makes so much noise, look like everybody ought to hear him. But now when that fellow comes around, I'm laying in the bed, don't you know, I get just so I got to be in that, because it's, it's all old time business.

Hermond Norwood: Uh um.

Fountain Hughes: And, uh, somebody don't like it. They says, "I don't like H." I says, "Why?" "Oh," he says, "he make too much noise." I say, "Well, well, the, the Bible say make a noise over Jesus? Jesus said make a noise over me, so he makes a noise over him." And I does enjoy certain of his show. Oh, he's oh everybody, he's got a big crowd and we just get so happy I got to do that too. [noise in background] Boy, when you feel the grace of God you've got to jump up. I lay in bed, I got to get up. Have, you have to carry on. And then next morning I can't talk. [break on the tape for a new reel] Doctor gave me that medicine, it just tore me all to pieces.

Hermond Norwood: Uh huh, I see. I sure hope it comes back again because I'd love, I'd like to hear you sing.

Fountain Hughes: Well old people used to say, "Wonder If I Shall Ever Reach Heaven or Wonder Shall I Fly." I, I used to could sing it. I can sing, well sometimes I hear the spirit, you know and I may get to singing something again someday. People now, I [voice trails off].

Hermond Norwood: Do you go to church every Sunday Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: Uh uh. Don't go to church at all. I set and listen to the radio.

Hermond Norwood: Listen to it on the radio huh.

Fountain Hughes: Because I'll tell you why I don't go to church.

Hermond Norwood: You rather not have this on? Hm? You rather not tell me or you rather not have this on when you tell me?

Fountain Hughes: It don't make any difference. I ain't going to say nothing wrong. I ain't going to [unclear]. If I, I, I, I say...