From People Magazine: “The story that Miller, 63, and her relatives tell is a sepia-toned nightmare straight out of the Old South. For years, she says, the family was forced to pick cotton, clean house and milk cows—all without being paid—under threat of whippings, rape and even death. They say they were passed from white family to white family, their condition never improving, until finally, hope that life would ever get better was nearly lost. Technically, the Walls were victims of “peonage,” an illegal practice that flourished in the rural South after slavery was abolished in 1865 and lasted, in isolated cases like theirs, until as recently as the 1960s. Under peonage, blacks were forced to work off debts, real or imagined, with free labor under the same types of violent coercion as slavery. In contrast with the more common arrangement known as sharecropping, peons weren’t paid and couldn’t move from the land without permission. “White people had the power to hold blacks down, and they weren’t afraid to use it—and they were brutal,” says Pete Daniel, a historian at the Smithsonian Institution and an expert on peonage.”
I know there will be naysayers but this case is not far fetched. Much love to the NORTHSTAR for posting this story (below). Go to the blog and read the actual comments for more info that actually helps to substantiate this story. NUBIAN WAVES has done some research as well and has a lot of information available on this case. What a horrible, horrible thing American has done to the African in America. My God!
I also found video from ABC NEWS regarding the case.
If this was a movie you would need every ounce of your suspension of disbelief for the movie to maintain its integrity. Buried on the last two pages of March’s edition of People’s Magazine is the most incredible story that only occurs in countries where lawlessness runs rampant. Meet the Wall family who claimed they were held in slavery until 1961. Slavery which was abolished in 1865 continued in a tiny rural town in Mississippi. This tiny town in Gillsburg, Mississippi was void of electricity, phone, or radio, and trips into town were forbidden for the Walls. The Wall family had no idea that they were free even though Black families in nearby Liberty, Miss., owned businesses and attended school.
Cain Wall Sr. was born in 1902 into peonage in St. Helena Parish, La. He worked the fields and milked cows for white families while believing he had no rights as a man. Peonage is a system where one is bound to service for payment of a debt. It was an illegal system that flourished in the rural South after slavery was abolished. Mr. Cain was born into this system believing that he was bound to these people that held him and his relatives captive. Being unable to read and write also stifled any opportunity that may have presented itself to the Mr. Cain because he was unable to decipher anything. During World War II, Mr. Cain decided to runaway, but eventually was captured and brought back into slavery.
Mr. Cain’s daughter Mae Miller remembered some of the most violent details of their time in captivity. She recalled the beatings that her father and members of her family received. According to People Magazine they were beaten with whips or even chains for slacking off. In the Magazine Mae’s older sister who is now 65 years old stated, “The whip would wrap around your body and knock you down.” Mae also recalled how once her father was beaten so badly that she and her siblings climbed on his body to protect him. For Mae Miller the most violent of crimes happened when she was five years old. In the Magazine she vividly remembered one day going to clean the house with her mom, and being accosted by two white males who raped her and her mother. She remembered a woman from the Gordon family which held them as slaves yelling to the two white males to leave her alone because she was only a yearling. That did not deter these two devils because they continued to rape a five year old, totally destroying this young woman’s soul. Years later Mae was told that she would be unable to have kids because of the damage done to her.
Mae found freedom in 1961 when she ran away at the age of 18 after refusing to do the chores. In People Magazine she stated, “I don’t know what got into me. I remember thinking they’re just going to have to kill me today, because I’m not doing this anymore.” After she ran away her family was kicked off the land by the Gordon family. Mae found work in a restaurant and eventually got married at the age of 20 to Wallace Miller. It was also during this time that Mae found out she could not have kids. However, she and her husband adopted four children. Mae went uneducated until in her late thirties when she learned to read and write. The most amazing thing to me was that after all those years Mae and her family did not realize that their captivity was illegal until 2001. People Magazine claims she attended a church meeting about slave reparations, and it was during this time she realized that what happened to her and her family was totally illegal. According to People she stated, “I couldn’t believe it. How could somebody do that to another person?”
The embarrassment of this entire episode is no longer weighing on the Cain’s family heart. They can now live in peace while their bedridden father rest comfortably. When contacted, the Gordon family remember that time differently. They can’t recall anyone being treated harshly or Mae’s rape. I can surmise that for the Gordon clan this was probably the norm, so acknowledging any wrong doing would be an extraordinary feat.