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From: "Douglas/Ungaro" <>
Subject: MARY WALKER, Chattanooga TN, Formerly Enslaved
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 08:17:09 +0100


shared by Helen Lillard

>From the Chattanooga (TN) Times-Free Press
Sunday, Feb. 20, 2000

"When the Rev. John Lloyd Edwards,Jr. heard tapes of Mary Walker talking
about
>her experience as a slave and as a 116-year old black woman learning to
read,
>he cried. Then he started the Mary Walker Foundation Museum that would
>commemorate her achievement. And when the number of visits to the museum
>started to dwindle, he converted an old school bus into a mobile museum and
>began traveling throughout the city so he could continue telling her story.

>The Rev. Edwards learned the ex-slave's story in 1970, a year after she
died.
> She lived in Chattanooga for more than 50 years. The defunct Soul Track
>Records had recorded her with intent to sell it, but she died before the
deal
>was complete. The tapes were left inside a building on Oak Street that the
>Rev. Edward's rented. When he found them, he stayed up all night
listening.
>Then he compared them to recordings of other ex-slaves. The language and
>historical accounts were similar, he said. She spoke about her masters,
>picking cotton from sunup to sundown and seeing slaves whipped. But when
>W.J. Peavy, who interviewed her on the tape, asked if she hates white
people,
>she said "No, how can I get to heaven if I hate somebody?" She changed my
>thinking. After all that she had been through, she didn't hate. I guess I
>can't either", he said.

>Member of her New Hope Baptist Church congregation said that she was so
>committed when she got too sick to walk, she crawled up the church steps
>rather than stay home.

>The first books she owned was the Bible. The American Bible Society gave
it
>to her in 1869. She said it gave her comfort just knowing that she had it,
>but she didn't learn how to read it for several decades. Until then, she
>used it to mark the births of her children. The Bible is on display at the
>museum.

>Ms. Walker was the last living slave in America. She was 15 when the
>Emancipation Proclamation was signed and she lived through 26 presidents.
>She enrolled in the Chattanooga Area Literacy Movement class at age 116 and
>lived to be 121." .... [there's a little more to the article]

(There is a color photo of Rev. Edwards holding a large painting of her in
front of the museum.)

transcribed and shared by Helen Lillard
Thanks Helen!

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