Till Freedom Cried Out
Memories of Texas Slave Life
Texas History - African American Studies
7 x 10, 192 pp.
20 line drawings.
Pub Date: 01/01/1997
Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series
Price:        $29.95

title also available as an ebook:
More ebooks

Published by Texas A&M University Press

To Receive E-News


Till Freedom Cried Out

Memories of Texas Slave Life

By Julie P. Baker
Edited by T. Lindsay Baker
Illustrations by Kermit Oliver

"I's born in Palestine Texas. I don't know how old I is. I was 9 years old when freedom cried out."

These poignant words begin the memories of a former Texas slave interviewed by W.P.A. field workers in Oklahoma during the 1930s. This account, along with thirty-two additional oral histories recorded as part of the Federal Writers' Project, describes life as a Texas slave—the family relations, entertainment, religion, work on the plantations, foodways, and punishment.

For decades the bondage of black slaves to white masters was part of everyday life in Texas, and by the eve of the Civil War almost one-third of the total population consisted of slaves.

Most works about slavery have been written from the white viewpoint, since most slaves were kept illiterate. This collection offers a clear-eyed perspective on this institution from the slaves themselves—their recollections from being sold away from their parents, suffering the pain of the overseers' lash, and being chosen to gratify masters' desires to finding emotional release in religious services, appreciating music and dancing, and enjoying an brief escape to the woods. Vignettes of daily life are sensitively brought to life in the skilled drawings of artist Kermit Oliver.

Enriched by these illustrations and by an introduction and postscript commentary by editors T. Lindsay Baker and Julie P.Baker, Till Freedom Cried Out presents vivid memories of lives and times inside the bonds of an institution that tried to break the tellers' bodies and souls.

T. Lindsay Baker has written many books on western and Texas history and material culture. He is director of academic programs and graduate studies for the Department of Museum Studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.Julie P. Baker received her master's degree from the University of Oklahoma. She is the director of the Layland Museum in Cleburne, Texas.Kermit Oliver, who received his bachelor's degree from Texas Southern University in 1967, has illustrated two previous books. He lives and works in Waco.

What Readers Are Saying:

“ . . . what makes this monograph so exciting and fascinating is that the authors have provided commentary upon the genesis of the interviews, who conducted them along with their color, and the editing process from which they emerged.”--Barry A. Crouch

“ . . . what makes this monograph so exciting and fascinating is that the authors have provided commentary upon the genesis of the interviews, who conducted them along with their color, and the editing process from which they emerged.” --Barry A. Crouch

“. . . but the stories are as interesting—and horrifying—as anything in ‘Roots.’ The narratives are rich in folklore, from treasure stories to voodoo and in details of the everyday life of a slave. . . . The Bakers did a fine job in editing the volume, putting the narratives in perspective with a solid introduction and providing notes for each entry. As Baker said in the last paragraph of his introduction, ‘Those who read these pages should come and bring their buckets to the well and drink deep of the memories.’” --Amarillo Sunday News-Globe

“. . . an unusual perspective on slavery—from the slaves themselves. . . .” --Books of the Southwest

“. . . the Texas remembrances from this oral history are gathered together—and make powerful reading, as Elsey shows as she discusses ‘how come I was born.’. . . Till Freedom Cried Out is a richly diverse and historically compelling cross section of life in Texas during the time of slavery. . . .” --Bryan-College Station Eagle (Spotlight)

“. . . Reading these personal recollections, some sad, some happy, is far more revealing than any text about slavery. . . .” --Abilene Reporter-News

“. . . An important resource for history assignments.” --School Library Journal

“. . . The Bakers and Texas A&M University Press deserve praise in Texas for making these likely-to-be-overlooked narratives from Oklahoma available in such a useful and attractive edition. . . . This book was exciting to read!” --East Texas Historical Association

“Most people who teach about slavery have probably learned by now that all the statistics . . . cannot compete with the dramatic individual human stories for getting the attention of students and for helping them to understand the South’s “peculiar institution.” --Western Historical Quarterly
“The 32 individual narratives here are rich with such stories.” --Western Historical Quarterly

“The work is not only a valuable research tool but also a valuable source of psycho-historical insights. . . . I highly recommend this anthology to persons interested in the history of slavery in Texas and genealogy; African Americans interested in studying their backgrounds in slavery should find this work particularly noteworthy.” --Bernadette Pruitt

“All in all this is a solidly wrought production.” --Great Plains Quarterly


Styling Jim Crow
Bootlegger's Other Daughter
San Antonio on Parade
Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877
Review Copy Request Form Desk Copy Request Form