thumbnail of We Ain't What We Was
Hide -
I am. Take the time to tell you. I suppose I would have to go.
Countryside. And John might have. Side. Come. And. I was without it. I am going and going and going and. You. And I.
Coming time. Where did you find her the way she looks is she right. Yes squid which is not right. And she feeds and washes herself but she isn't supposed to. Not a sound. I think maybe she's deaf. She just had everything I say to her but it's as if I've given dreamy but been so frightened that you couldn't scream. She's living in one long nightmare. She can't wake up. Maybe we can take her to the parish ask me. I was thinking that maybe we should keep it with us.
I mean she needs someone. She needs someone like you to help her. Well I need you I don't have anything left to give to anybody else. You don't understand me. What's changed me is trying to do everything about me. This is something I have to do. Good is it. I have a dog. Would you like to see it.
I used to play with them when I was your age. He's pretty. You take good care of her. It's been a long journey. She's probably tired we better put her to bed. All right. She's really good. She needed. What about her people can you know she's an orphan. Nobody knows everybody's dead in the whole house. And the house in the street and in the town. Some said 3000 died others said 2000 the rest were transported to the Barbados to Barbados new world. You mean the Browns die single day on now it took three days to do it all and when they were finished the Drogheda they marched on the West when they began it all again. Cuomo said that the Irish were nothing but savages he said it was God's will that they become like stubble before our swords he said make an
example of them and put an end to the fighting. But on the road I heard they were still at it and I judge they'll be at it for another year or more. I don't understand what what a little child to do with Civil War Is it your honor. I'm like you know I was a Catholic I was a string of beads but I threw them away. What if he. How do I make you understand. I truly believed it was a holy war. I would have followed Molly Cromwell to hell I was against my own father for not like Cromwell. Right here in this room with father and the men from the Manor Farm up to fight the war and me all fired up by the preaching of the parson in the village. I believe the king has no right to govern Englishman like beasts by his will. Men have a right to be governed by laws to make themselves and to make the king listen to his own parliament with a just
cause. Even when they beheaded the king I didn't doubt it. I thought the child was a traitor to the people who are so sure. Until Joe gate and I couldn't for the life of me what is how they show my very soul obey those orders. I couldn't turn a child. Man I've killed how many I never know when I could kill a child and your home. I stood over as dumbstruck as she was and I thought to myself What what have we been wrong. What if we win every battle. Not because God was on our side but because of our Ironsides armor because not a Cromwell was the greatest general ever to march on English soil. And then I thought to myself if that be true
and what kind of we've been guilty of. How could God ever forgive us. I had to do this. I had to save the child. I know I can't fight anymore. I never ever said I turned my back on Drogheda and the army better even though I haven't had a roof over my head from one day to the next level. Sometimes I wonder if Cromwell can leave. He's been with us nine years now. And never spoke. Everything that happens before. And most of the time that I'm a very little comfort to.
John's grandmother still. And the soldiers go by constantly. And it was to be done. But John still the messengers were coming through on their way to the port and it's hard for me that they would start to change horses and tell him something that was almost on. It seemed to take forever. It was not going to you know it's just a good song. That's the Armstrongs more.
Well that's the name of what I'm also doing mother. Because we are really what the child has never lost a fear of them. I just don't know what to do for you. I know that your will know that our King Charles was afraid of him and one day we were drawn up in battle and the king himself through his own sword in front of his life going to leave him and think of what is Mandela's right will probably save his life for all the bloody good it did. I know you remember my mother when Elizabeth died. Her Cousin Mary's son James came down from Scott.
And he was crowned king. And when James died his son Charles became king. Now than it was a civil war crime while his Ironsides took over. But Charles I don't want to watch. It's no matter mother. He's been dead these nine years. Problem is Ironsides killed him. It was one o'clock when they let him out on the scuffle. He refused the bond to tie his hands. I even pulled back his own hair. He was afraid of him right at the end. My wound was fresh and I couldn't get close it was such a big crowd. He placed his head on the block and
suddenly execution when they dropped the axle his own arm. And when he did the crowd let up. Great. And then that soldier held up his head and said This is the head of a traitor. If you would just forget if you would just stop living it over and over again in your mind. Nine years of from well my son is going to work from the dark of the morning till the dark of night and he still can't make enough to put bread on the table. I wonder what's going to happen now the crime was dead. You know there's going to be another civil war. Knowing what to expect is so much better than this uncertainty.
Someday we're going to go away from here. We're going to go to the house of our own. Country. And. Apply to me. Well they say they missed on Richard as exciting as Lord Protector when everything will be all right know everything will be all right with your crumb of them like his father than Granny is in there you know what they call Richard Cromwell tumble down Dick. I never get that I mean check only not a crime I could do that. Maybe we could go away somewhere. Maybe we could go to some other village off the main road which I just won't be any soldiers and no horses to be shod no smiting to do till Monday.
We could lose ourselves in a city somewhere where lots of horses to be shot there and you don't know what it's like there. The city is packed with people looking for work there is no place to live they're crowded tight that thousands and thousands of them had to fire chance a plague. But but why. I've been turning my thoughts to something else. But going over and over in my mind now. The new world. Now listen. John like you I was horrified at the thought of traveling to the new world. I had heard it is a wilderness filled with savages a place unfit for Englishman. Some said the women living there become sterile and can no longer bear children. Perhaps then surely I would never be able to have another child. But John said that wasn't true. And anyway it may be better to be childless in a good land and to stay here in these troubled times. But what a
room granny. But the voyage is difficult for young people how can they endure the hardships of the journey. And even if they get there safely what then. How could John feed and clothe all five of us in that room. Right now it would be impossible. How could we live there. How could we begin to pay the passage money. But John insisted. He said it was possible to sign a paper promising to work in a new land to pay the cost of the journey. A man without a trade must sign to labor for seven years. But a carpenter or a smithy can sign on for four or five years work. John was sure that his father could work there too and land acres and acres of land. After your term of work for the passage money is over the agreement states that your employer must give you a piece of land land of your own. A man John
talked to in the village swore that this was true. We agreed then that we would try to find out more. John left for the port worship was on loan tobacco from the New World. Perhaps the captain could tell us if what he heard was true and how to make arrangements for our passage. Iraq to the poor in back to today and while I'm waiting for John to return I wondered about that. Some people say they're probably going to happen. But you can just pan and scream to get on your side. Yes the stories are savages. But John says that some of them are. Meaningless when they are too busy planning. No army. No battle. And maybe the child could be free.
To laugh out loud talk to be. True. May be it's true everything I heard was true. I got one of the papers with me. It's called adventure. You've got to read it to me but I don't understand a word he said. He told me to get to the part of the village that I didn't read it and I told him I married to a parson's daughter and she reads very well John you can take all of them. At first he said no you can't take granny avoiders heart two three maybe four months and see if you're not strong. You fall ill but they need a blacksmith back
so we can take care of granny we can bring. And what about we'll take father too. I did tell him that he was lame. But what I did. The captain asked me why and how did it happen. I told him that he fought with the king of the world he said that's all right. And it seems that the colony that he's headed for was started by Wallace. But there are puritans and Catholics there too. Catholics Catholics and it's the only one there like it. It seems they have a law called toleration. It need you can't be punished for your beliefs as long as you swear your faith to the Holy Trinity. But there are Quakers there and they won't swear to it. We must take everything we need with us. We'll have to bring plenty of food for the voyage. All the household goods we can aboard. John I think is truly mean she's going to be safe. I mean with the toleration and everything even if she begins to speak out on race that's something else I forgot to tell you. The lower the start of the colony has an Irish title. His name is Lord Baltimore.
There will be other ships leaving for other colonies but I think this is the opportunity we've been waiting for. And we only have a week. Right. Child Listen child. We're going on a ship a long way away. What shall we name. I thought about that coming back from the port. I think we should name our After own land. There's truly nothing to fear we could conquer Aaron. Yeah that's a pretty name for an airing. We're really going away. Yes well ungrounded can go to when I have a little place in a room with a garden and flowers just like John. What's this place called merry lad. It's after King Charles wife. Father I like its way across the sea in the world. Are there any soldiers you know and it's not called the New World. The captain said I had another name
America. Oh. Now. Since then I've been filled with the preparations. Granny doesn't understand much about what we can hardly wait till he is there making boxes and barrels along thinking what things will be. I will send you letters when they come back to. We may not meet again in this life pain. But I know you will understand why we must owe my life to you and God. You're up early.
Come on over here by the fire and get. A very long time. You're going to be lots of storms but John's a very sturdy one. And the captains made the trip lots of times before. You won't be afraid when you. Over there that everybody has and will be able to have a garden. And plant. Herbs. Have a little border run. And. Tomorrow we leave for America. America really is a beautiful word isn't. America.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
We Ain't What We Was
Producing Organization
WMPB (Television station : Baltimore, Md.)
Maryland Public Television
Contributing Organization
Maryland Public Television (Owings Mills, Maryland)
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-394-50tqjzjc).
Program Description
The program, a television adaptation of a stage production, is primarily a [one-woman] performance. Ms. Isabelle Monk portrays a black woman of indeterminate age, who through fictionalized personal experiences relives three hundred years of the Black American experience in the United States. "On camera, before a live television audience, Ms. Monk portrays an archetypal black matriarch whose life story parallels the struggle of black Americans to break the bonds of slavery and achieve freedom and equality. She unfolds the drama through songs, stories, and heirlooms toted on stage in an old gray sack."--1978 Peabody Awards entry form. Using a fair amount of humor in her storytelling, Isy Monk portrays an old black women reminiscing on her past as a slave and as a freedwoman, and on the experiences of blacks in America in general since being brought here as slaves. She explains how slaves ended up with white names, how whites taught slaves about religion and how to speak English, retells the story of Cinderella as a poor black girl living in the South, and performs some voodoo magic. A large portion of the show involves her recounting her life as a slave on a plantation, the killing of her three children to keep them from being a slaves, and her family's escape to freedom. She explains the differences between a field slave and a house slave, what emancipation meant to her, the meaning of the word "nigger", and discusses what it was like being a housekeeper for a rich, white woman. She also recounts her grandson's death at the hands of the police.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Media type
Moving Image
Copyright Holder: MPT
Director: Nicodemus, Ron
Performer: Monk, Isy
Producer: Marshburn, Everett
Producing Organization: WMPB (Television station : Baltimore, Md.)
Producing Organization: Maryland Public Television
Writer: O'Keefe, Dennis
Writer: Gray, Gordon
Writer: Monk, Isy
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Maryland Public Television
Identifier: cpb-aacip-3c7bce81f96 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:30:00
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-79633ff6a40 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 00:58:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “We Ain't What We Was,” 1978-11-30, Maryland Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 2, 2022,
MLA: “We Ain't What We Was.” 1978-11-30. Maryland Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 2, 2022. <>.
APA: We Ain't What We Was. Boston, MA: Maryland Public Television, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from