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 All That She Carried

All That She Carried

Synopsis

A renowned historian and MacArthur "Genius Grant" fellow traces a single object handed down through three generations of Black women, from slavery and into the twentieth century, to craft an extraordinary meditation on people who are left out of the archives of history.Sitting in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton bag, called "Ashley's Sack," embroidered with just a handful of words that evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. In 1850s South Carolina, just before nine-year-old Ashley was sold, her mother, Rose, gave her a sack filled with just a few things as a token of her love. Decades later, Ashley's granddaughter, Ruth, embroidered this history on the bag--including Rose's message that "It be filled with my Love always." Historian Tiya Miles carefully follows faint archival traces back to Charleston to find Rose in the kitchen where she may have packed the sack for Ashley. From Rose's last resourceful gift to her daughter, Miles then follows the paths their lives and the lives of so many like them took to write a unique, innovative history of the lived experience of slavery in the United States. The contents of the sack--a tattered dress, handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, "my Love always"--speak volumes and open up a window on Rose and Ashley's world. As she follows Ashley's journey, Miles metaphorically "unpacks" the sack, deepening its emotional resonance and revealing the meanings and significance of everything it contained. These include the story of enslaved labor's role in the cotton trade and apparel crafts and the rougher cotton "negro cloth" that was left for enslaved people to wear; the role of the pecan in nutrition, survival, and southern culture; the significance of hair to Black women and of locks of hair in the nineteenth century; and an exploration of Black mothers' love and the place of emotion in history.This is the poignant story of love passed down through generations of women and a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness it takes to keep and to reveal the histories of people left out of the archives.

Book Details

Publisher

Random House Digital

Released

Jun 08, 2021

Language

english

ISBN

9781984855008

Age Level

General Adult

Attributes

Text to Speech Enabled
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