One amazing thing about technology is how we are able to capture firsthand accounts of the past from prior generations that might have been lost, or not communicated as effectively if we didn’t have easy access to video recording. And social media, of course, lets those stories be shared with the whole world.

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Denise B (@blackbeauty_305) is taking full advantage of both of those parts of life, using TikTok to allow her 103-year-old grandmother to share recollections of the time she spent picking cotton in the south many, many years ago.

Madie Scott talked to her granddaughter about going up and down the rows every day and the thorns poking her fingers.

“When you get used to picking cotton, you pick it, you know how to pick it,” she said.

She also explained that she did all that work for the people who owned the fields. A bus would come and pick her and everyone else working up at 3 am, and not take them back home again until 5 pm.

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“I worked like a dog,” Madie recalled. “Cotton you plant. It’s got seeds. And I used to go to the field with momma, my momma. You chop cotton… I know all of the tricks, because I done it. Oh Lord. All the work I done.”


Grandma picked cotton from 3am-5pm every day.. She was paid barely anything. Smh! #storytime

♬ original sound – Denise B

This video is only one of many Denise has made with her grandmother, giving her a place to share her story and her history, and letting other TikTokers ask questions.

Together, they’ve made videos about other work she did back in her day, household activities, and so much more. 

And it’s all resonated with viewers — each video has racked up thousands of views, although the cotton-picking TikTok has drawn in over three million awestruck viewers so far.

“Wow she’s probably seen so much in her lifetime,” @doublecheekedshorty wrote.

“She is her ancestor’s dream,” said @diamondmsaint. “To live through all that and be free to see the world today.”

Others were quick to point out that this all just serves as a reminder that slavery and the hard years that followed its official end weren’t all that long ago, and Black communities are still feeling the impact.

“But their favorite line is ‘get over it’ as if ppl who experienced aren’t STILL alive,” one viewer wrote.

And @iamclassicbeatz suggested that “this is such a clear case for reparations.”

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Madie is set to turn 104 in December, and her granddaughter provided an address to send gifts or cards for all those who have appreciated her stories. And in the meantime, they’ll keep on recording and sharing this important history.

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*First Published: November 24, 2021, 8:51 am