“I can well remember when others little children and I were very happy, not knowing that we were slaves. We played merrily together, knowing nothing of the world and of the long oppression of our people. But as time passed on, first one and then another of those who were as helpless as myself were missed from the company of little slaves.
One day we saw John, who was much older than the rest, with a small bundle in his hand, saying good-bye to his mother, while a white man stood waiting in the hall for him. His mother and mine, with others, were crying, and all seemed very sad. I did not know what to make of it. A vague fear came over me, but I did not know why. We heard that the man who took John away was a ‘Georgia Trader,’ or slave dealer.
Whenever we saw a white man looking over the fence as we were at play, we would run and hide, sometimes getting near our mothers, ignorantly thinking they could protect us. But another and again another of us would be taken away. All this showed to us the difference – the great difference – there was between the white and coloured children. White children were free but black children were slaves and could be sold for money. What seemed worse than all was the discovery that our mothers, whom we looked upon as our only protectors, could not help us.”
– Thomas Johnson
Source: Twenty-Eight Years a Slave, or The Story of My Life in Three Continents by Thomas L. Johnson.