cotton production. I was included on trips to Nashville and Atlanta to negotiate cotton prices, purchase equipment, buy and sell livestock and, worst of all: slaves. I remember my first trip to the slave auction in Charleston, South Carolina, vividly. It began with selecting slaves to sell. We talked to our overseer who had a list of young, strong bucks that would fetch top dollar, slaves that were too old and feeble to work the fields, good breeders, cooks and maids. It looked a lot like this: Sally Middle Breeder: 4 live males; 1 live female Liz Middle trained in the kitchen Jeb Middle young, strong, training as skilled wheelwright Isaac Young young, strong; field hand Tess Infant Infant of Sally Ruth Adult spinner/weaver James Aged field hand; tanner Phyllis Young trained as a seamstress I will never forget the slave market when we got there. It bustled with activity. There were horses, men and cages everywhere. Inside the cages, slaves were on display. Throughout the day, they were dragged out, chained up, paraded across a stage, poked, prodded and inspected. I was taught how to look into their eyes to see if they had poor eyesight, check their mouths for teeth, assess their strength, temperament and height to determine if they would make better breeding stock or field hands. I remember the fear in some of their eyes, the hatred in others. My heart secretly broke as I observed families bought and sold, often separately. I vividly remember the cries and screams of one young mother who stood on the auction block as two different men bought her children. She crumbled to the ground, screams wracking her entire body as her children were ripped from her hands and stolen away. And then, as if that were not enough, the horror of watching her get kicked and dragged to her feet, prodded even further and sold to a third man who cruelly hauled her off and hit her across the face to shut her up. It was then that I became determined to change it. One last crack of the whip, followed by a muffled sob snaps me back to reality. I sway on my feet and feel both dizzy and sick as I see the crumpled form of my childhood friend Abe lying in a pool of blood at my father’s feet. I want to be strong, bravely step forward, lift him in my arms and carry him to his bunk, but I stop as he is scooped up by several of his fellow slaves and loaded onto a cart. I silently vow vengeance.