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Jefferson Davis, who served as the president of the Confederate States of America, the group of southern states that seceded from the union, was born on this day in 1808. He was president from 1861-1865, when the traitorous confederacy lost the war. Davis, who owned more than 100 human beings, believed that Africans were inferior. In a speech to the U.S. Senate in 1860, Davis, a senator from Mississippi in defending the institution of slavery said, “we recognize the fact of the inferiority stamped upon that race by the Creator, and from cradle to grave, our government, as a civil institution, marks that inferiority.”

On This Day, we honor the voices of those held in bondage.

From 1936 to 1938, the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency, sent workers throughout the South to collect oral histories from survivors. They collected more than 2,000 interviews, including those who hundreds from the state of Alabama, which on this day has celebrated the birth of Jefferson Davis as a state holiday. Today we celebrate the lives of those who survived slavery in America.

The Library of Congress has all of the recordings, which have been transcribed. here are a some of the testimonies collected from interviews in Alabama in 1937:

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