A Slave No More
John M. Washington
By David W. Blight
In reading the narrative of Washington, born in Virginia and Turnage, a teen in Alabama, the vision that each had for their journey into freedom is quite arresting and extraordinary.
In the first part of the book, it is Mr. Blight who brings his narrative and fills in historical events, times and names sets the pace and backgrounds for the narratives in Washington’s and Turnage’s own words.
Throughout the read you find enrichment and wonder in their stories that have survived for our enlightenment these many years later. It is strongly emphasized in the text that each man was educated, could read and write and that they do tell their own stories. The second part of the book confirms this fact by presenting the text of their discovered writings – in their own words and by their own hands.
According to each, they were determined and very dedicated to reaching freedom. They do not omit the trials of their families, as Washington and Turnage were fugitives.
In the introductions to their books, they give cause for the writings for their families in order that they will know the what, how, the when and where it all took place and how they endured. The descriptions in the individual stories are so vivid you take the journey with them right through the Civil War.
There are pictures, glorious pictures of family, these heroes, copies of their maps, scenes of their home towns to which they so longed to return.
Slave narratives are very rare, and these extraordinary.
Washington and Turnage name names, places and give dates and of course the happenings. Taliaferro: Catherine Ware, Francis Whitaker
Ware’s: Thomas R. Sr & Jr, William
Hart’s: Hewell, Louis, Nelson, Senetty, William – just to name a few.
Washington and Turnage can best be summed up with a quote on the book cover by Turnage.
“It was death to go back and it was death to stay there and freedom was before me; it could only be death to go forward if I was caught and freedom if I escaped”.
Take the journey.
February 15, 2011
from Cleo Holden