HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Over 70 years after the end of the Civil War, a Murrells Inlet native was tasked with finding and speaking with former slaves, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, about their lives under slavery.
In the mid-1930s, Genevieve Willcox Chandler interviewed and transcribed dozens of interviews with elderly people who were born slaves on the rice plantations along the Waccamaw Neck, and who still lived in Horry and Georgetown counties, as part of a project for the Works Progress Administration.
"I the oldest liver left on Waccamaw Neck that belong to Brookgreen, Prospect, Longwood, Alderly Plantations," 89-year-old Ben Horry told Chandler. "I been here! I seen things! I tell you. Thousand of them things happen but I try to forget 'em."
Another former slave Chandler interviewed was Hagar Brown.
"I remember them Klu Kluh (klux) would come getcha out of church and they take you to some place. They do tings to you, you ain't wanna been tell nobody bout 'em. And you tink to yourself 'bout dem people that hate ya so bad."
Veronica Gerald, who is head of the Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University, counts Brown as both an ancestor and inspiration.
"Well, by all means, her story inspired me," Gerald said. "Many of the stories of these narrators inspired me because they showed you that things could be accomplished, regardless of what was going on in your life."
Gerald is just one Grand Strand resident who is narrating the accounts of these former slaves by using their own words.
Tune into WMBF News on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to hear the stories of former slaves, in their own words.