The Longest Train Home

by Storm McAdrian

I t was the Dawn of Hope.

Slavery had become stylish, and I was an only child born into it. I remember the days when my parents were ill-treated and continually beaten. Sometimes they were starved; a tactic which forced them to work. Slave owners of the times often insisted on feeding the children the very best. However, their agenda was clear, it was preparation for use as a slave laborer.

The truth for those of us who endured was, the worst life is a life unaccounted for or unspoken of and there were many. Conditions were bad, diseases and other illnesses rampaged its way through the plantations killing young and old. Despite the torment, shame, and humiliation brought on by cruelty, the strongest of us survived. We were proud of our heritage, and the times, even though unbearable; we made do and tried to be happy. Many were religious in one way or another, and pleaded with God day after day to release us from a degrading bondage. When it seemed as if all hope was gone, relief came unexpectedly in the form of a kindhearted man.

On January 1, 1863, in the name of fairness and freedom, risking his very own existence to spare those he had not known, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. He had shone a light on a vast darkness. I was barely five years old at the time and only hours after Lincolnís history making action, in the middle of the night during a heavy downpour Esther Chapman, my mother, gave birth to a baby boy in our isolated barrack along the south end of the plantation. He was born free. His name was Mathias.

"Esther, 'E is handsome." A fellow slave said.

"If they free we, 'E will be a free boy. Not like his pa and ma, thank the lord." My mother said looking up.

"And thank the President, 'E done free we." My father said with tears rolling down his face balling his fists trembling. News of freedom had spread.

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The Longest Train Home by Storm McAdrian

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