Vermont Folklife Center

Alec's Primer - Photos

 

Audio

Alec’s Primer read by Vernice Miller. © 2004 Camel’s Hump Radio

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Alec’s Primer is based on a story that Daisy Turner of Grafton, Vermont, used to tell about her father Alec. Storytelling was an important part of family life when Daisy was growing up. She heard her father tell many stories about his life as a slave on a Virginia plantation and she remembered these stories even when she was very old. Below is a sampling of stories and songs from tape-recorded interviews with Daisy Turner.

This is the story on which Alec’s Primer is based in Daisy Turner’s own words.

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Here Daisy talks about showing people the primer to prove that her father’s story is true. Alec’s primer was later lost when Daisy’s parents’ house burned.

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This is another story Alec told Daisy about the time when he was a little boy. Although he could play with the white children, Alec wasn’t allowed to wear the same kinds of clothing because he was a slave.

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Slavery officially ended in the United States on January 1, 1863, when Daisy’s father was 17. Here Daisy wonders if people today understand that black people used to be slaves, “right here in this United States.”

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Daisy sings part of “My Darling Nellie Gray.” This song was sung by people who thought slavery was wrong.

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You can see all of the words as they were originally printed on a broadside or song sheet from the time of the Civil War here:

http://www.epfl.net/exhibits/mdbv/docs/mdbv109.html

You can listen to another version of the song from a man in Arkansas here:

http://www.smsu.edu/folksong/maxhunter/1440/

Daisy sings part of the spiritual “John Saw the Number.” Spirituals are an important part of African American culture and singing spirituals was an important tradition in Daisy’s family life.

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