Up from Slavery: An Autobiography

By Booker T. Washington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
BOYHOOD DAYS

A FTER the coming of freedom there were two points upon which practically all the people on our place were agreed, and I find that this was generally true throughout the South: that they must change their names, and that they must leave the old plantation for at least a few days or weeks in order that they might really feel sure that they were free.

In some way a feeling got among the coloured people that it was far from proper for them to bear the surname of their former owners, and a great many of them took other surnames. This was one of the first signs of freedom. When they were slaves, a coloured person was simply called "John" or "Susan." There was seldom occasion for more than the use of the one name. If "John" or "Susan" belonged to a white man by the name of "Hatcher," sometimes he was called "John Hatcher", or as often "Hatcher's John." But there was a feeling that "John Hatcher" or "Hatcher's

-23-

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