For about $300, a 9-year-old girl named Ashley was sold as a slave.

Her mother, Rose, remained a house slave at a mansion in South Carolina.

This was the 1850s, roughly a decade before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, setting slaves free.

Before mother and daughter were separated, Rose gave Ashley a cotton sack. It contained a tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans and a lock of her hair. Rose told Ashley it was filled with love — always.

Ashley never saw her mom again, but she kept the sack. It was handed down through the generations, along with her story, to her granddaughter, Ruth Middleton.

Ruth, a single mom in Philadelphia, stitched her family story into the cloth sack in 1921.


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.