Those Left Behind...Slaves In The 20th & 21st Century
-- Genealogist and researcher produces documentary entitled "The Untold Story: Slavery In The 20th Century"
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) -- For ten years Antoinette Harrell, renowned genealogist and television talk show producer, has unearthed thousands of state and federal documents relating to peonage. Peonage in the Southern States grew out of labor settlements following the emancipation of the slaves. At the end of the Civil War, both Black and White people throughout the south faced enormous political, social and economic changes. In the southern states, many newly freed slaves remained on plantations. Many of the plantations were still in the hands of previous owners. As Freedmen, the ex-slaves agreed to work the crops in exchange for housing, a percentage of crops, and to receive a salary. Under the provisions enacted by the state legislature, legal contracts were drawn up and signed by both planter and labor. Overseeing these agreements were agents from the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, a government agency established to assist Freedmen in the aftermath of emancipation. The Freedmen, being unable to read or write, had to make their mark. Children as young as five years old had their mark made. It is reasonable to believe that plantation owners also forged their marks.
Ten years ago, Harrell conducted a genealogy and reparations lecture in Amite, Louisiana, at All Nations Church. A woman named Mae Louise Miller walked in and stated that she and her family had been held as slaves in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Harrell didn't doubt Mae's life story. She had met other people in St. John Parish, Louisiana, who spoke of slavery and Involuntary Servitude on plantations in St. John Parish in the 20th Century. Many of the people Harrell met were afraid to speak out. They were afraid of what would happen to them if they told anyone that they had been slaves and peons in the 20th century. Some of the people she talked with couldn't read or write in the 21st century. Like Mae, some of them thought that everyone was living in the same conditions. Most importantly, they didn't believe that anyone would believe them.
Harrell found evidence that several Presidents of the United States were aware that slavery hadn't ended. President Calvin Coolidge, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and President Warren Harding knew that slavery still existed in sixteen states and twenty-seven counties in Mississippi. Harrell's researched revealed that poor Whites, Hungarians, Polish, Choctaw Indians, Mexicans and Italians - but predominately Black people - were held as 20th Century Slaves.
For more information, please contact Antoinette Harrell at 504-858-4658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS CONTACT: Donna Shannon donna@donnashannon.NET 323-854-4328
Slavery in the 20th century presented as part of BHM
The Art of Re-enslavement
Excerpt: Slavery By Another Name
Civil War Librarian
Winner Audience Award at the 2009 PATOIS New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival.
Featuring Mae Wall. Directed by Joshua Johnston. Executive Producer Antoinette Harrell.