Stories of the Old South

Copyright Bonnie Stanard

St. Helena Island,

South Carolina


Kedzie's story takes place on one of the many barrier islands east of the town of Beaufort. The mud flats of low tide turn into tidal basins at high tide. Creeks rise and fall with the hour of the day.


Because of the island's location, a slave would need a boat to get to the mainland. That is to say, escape was not just perilous, but virtually impossible.


Today, descendants of slaves live on the island and keep alive the Gullah culture that came with them on the slaver ships from Africa.

At night in the quarters, cries and laughter escape through chinks in the walls. This rush of humanity is overworked and underfed, crude, brash, and aggrieved, and Kedzie wants no part of it.

Live Oak

Live oaks flourish on the island and live to be hundreds of years old. This one may have provided a shade for island slaves.

Where the Story Began


The Federal Writers’ Project in 1937 collected and preserved as narratives wonderful and tragic stories told by former slaves. These former slaves spoke of how they and their parents struggled to keep their humanity. In large measure, they inspired the writing of Kedzie.

... powerful sensory images of plantation life

... [sheds] light on the darker side of antebellum American history

  

    A stellar, heart-wrenching chronicle of human bondage.

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The young girl Kedzie hardly knows she’s a slave until she moves from the village to the quarters of Westfall Plantation. People sleep on coarse ticks stuffed with shucks and cook their corn pone over the open fire.

KEDZIE, Saint Helena Island Slave