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This program was produced by W. Biggio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. For freedom and he said this when Negro Americans helped make American history. He will travel along that lonely road. They are. THE LEAD. Stories of Negro Americans who have shared in the building of our nation. Today the Colson of Virginia. Or. The history of the Negro in America begins for the most part in 60 90. Your rival appointed me rose in the English colony of Jamestown. But
it's not commonly known there were negroes who lived in America after that day and before the Civil War. We're not slaves. Some like that first 20 and a few hundred who followed them were indentured servants. Bound by contract to work for a certain number of years and then given their freedom. Thousands were free men free men who worked in trade as other residents. Free men from the beginning had a contribution to our country. How did these negroes remain free. What was it like to be a member of the free negro family in a slave holding society. The story of one of these families begins in 1788 aboard a ship arriving at anchor beyond the salt marshes just below Williamsburg Virginia. To make their way to the ship's brain and look out over the water there see those lights on shore upstream. I mean freedom jumper for the find were gone. James the water's too deep and it
can't jump and would you rather stay here and rot. I'm sick of being a sailor. Obviously I feel the same way but I'm not a good swimmer. I'll never make it. I'm drunk you know what aside it's not far. I'll help you when you get tired. Come on we can make it I don't know this is the first chance we've had to escape since they kidnapped us I'm a barbershop back in Haiti. Or you're going to give it up now. You might never get another one. They discovered it's now or never. Are you with me James. Come this way to Williamsburg. This is how many negroes arrived in the New World. Brave men would rather die than make it to shore. There were many trials ahead for this new arrival but he managed to establish himself in
business. He married and had a son. He became the first of the Co. Years late spring in Williamsburg. In a certain barber shop customers to wait on this moment the barber is quietly reading when suddenly. Mr. Colson That is correct sir. Let me see your free papers if you have any. By what right do you come in here making such a request. Where is your party. Mark Karr is the law of the sovereign state of Virginia. Now get up those papers. Here they are. All right but you better watch your step here. You better become a little more familiar with our laws before you find yourself up a sale one day. Now mind what I
say. The new inspector appointed by the governor himself told you have a negro named Jason apprentice to you as a barber. He may be the escaped slave we're looking for your information source incorrect. The man I have working for me is not an escape slave. He's a free man. I have all his freedom. This very day I paid the last part of the purchase price for him. This receipt as proof payee How could you pay what you forgets or My Traitor's barber and as my father's was before me I've saved enough to pay for his freedom. I suppose so but there are too many of you free blacks as it is in business for yourselves and take enough food out of the mouths of white Virginians making us slaves restless. While I had my way Art inspect my papers if you will. And please leap from where. There are no other. Fortunately for you when you're a man now you mine. Remember your place. Good day sir.
When you mine you're right Dave and I heard the inspector talking to you. Have they taken all of your merry they keep trying. But now I have all those papers. Jason this is a moment we've long been waiting for. From now on you're off free man. Thank you Will. No need to tell you what this means to me. Jason I am proud to be your friend. There are free papers. Guard them with your life. They're proof of your freedom. If you're caught without them who are you know what that means. Well you know I'm grateful. But why have you done all of this for me. You know the story of my father how he jumped ship that night how the crew thought he drowned and how he was accepted Williamsburg as a free negro from eighty. How hard he worked open a shop well with every stroke he swam through the marsh he vowed that he was saved from slavery. He do his best to see that others were saved from that terrible fate. And he did too. Now it's my place to carry on in his work. Jason we're glad to have you with us. But we want you to know that the life
of a free negroid not easy. There are all kinds of restrictions and control. There are laws set down what you can. Do you care to move about freely. You have no right to a family. So why do workers hate you because they believe you're taking their jobs away from them. One of the few things you're allowed to do is pay taxes on the property you might own. Another is to return to slavery if you wish. Although I must say I don't believe there are too many of us who have exercised that right. Perhaps the worst thing Jason is the refusal of most white folks to accept us is partners in the life of the state. It seems women other free Negroes will never convince them of their ability and interest as citizens of a genius. You may be right Mary but some day I'll show I'll keep right on trying. I must let them see that I'm a man just like any other man. YOU'RE A GOOD MAN Well good because I want others to know what freedom is. We may
complain a lot and we may have more than our share of trouble but I assure you freedom is worth it. As I promised my father every man I can afford to buy will be a free man free to be his own master as free as Jason is at this moment. Mary this is my dream that Jason be the last. William Goodson was as good as his word. Jason was not. Alas. William Colson worked long hard barbershop fast in the business community and as he did so did the number of negroes whose freedom he was able to purchase. There were thousands of free Negroes in Virginia now in these years before the Civil War. Some freed as Jason was. Some had saved enough money to buy their own freedom some with children of a negro mother. Some were freed by kind hearted masters. Someone their freedom who had a right to
be. One night some years later while the Coltons was spending a short visit with their friends the Randalls on the round of plantation near Petersburg Virginia their sleep was suddenly interrupted by a fearful cry. Very quickly. The house is on fire. We got to get out of here. Will MARY Thank God you're out of the house everyone think everyone's accounted for except my son. I try to get through to with room but I couldn't make it. The smoke was just too thick. Just to think no one seen him look at that man that pull my running back into the house. Good Lord that's my man Tom. Come I. Know you always come back before. Come back and in his arms was Mr. Randolph son a few days later.
Mr. Randolph that fire certainly cost a good deal of trouble but I think I can say that the end result in happiness too for me as well as for Tom your servant former servant Well yes thanks to his courageous act during the fire. Time is no longer a slave. Bring him for saving my son's life was the least I could do. He earned his freedom now as a result of your decision as a free man. And now we've got to find some work for him. The law states that free negroes must work and that their means of support must be visible. What makes it even more difficult is that entry into certain trades is forbidden. Well Mr. Randolph the solution is already arrived at business in the shoppers. Good these days and Jason and I can use another apprentice. Tom has agreed to learn barbering. But every employee is not
like smooth. There were problems in adjusting not only to the members of the white community around them but also to the members of the community. The personal servant of one of the Colson's white neighbors in Williamsburg and one evening he sat with Jason in the shop. They are quite comfortable. Maybe so Jason but I sure would hate to put anything there. Don't you miss gone there of course and someday when you're a free man you'll have to go back. I mean but at least I get my three meals a day. We're here to tell you you know that's not so very well. Maybe some folks won't sell supplies to the coffins but we manage to get along just to say
I have a hard time but let me tell you best makes a difference. Now don't get riled up. I just can't. You know you're not supposed to be out this late. You'll get all of us in trouble. I'm sorry. Good night. Good night. Jason I'm sorry to hear Kato like that. I understand. Well a lot of slaves talk that way. Maybe they do it as a way of easing their condition. Maybe but I hope it will be this way. Things must change someday. Goodnight. Bob ring business
import export Africa from South Carolina. His family like all the family success today his descendants live in New York New Jersey and all of them proud of the fact. This program the Coltons of Virginia in the series Glory Road was written by Gladys Francis and edited and produced by Norman was it heard in the cast were Carolyn English the Roy Wilson William Price Samuel outside the norm and wilder and Seymour James
The glory road
The Colson Family
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the Colson family of Virginia.
Other Description
The stories of African-Americans who have helped make the United States what it is today.
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Race and Ethnicity
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Director: Wiser, Norman
Producer: Wiser, Norman
Writer: Francis, Gladys B.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-9-11 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:12:16
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Chicago: “The glory road; The Colson Family,” 1966-03-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021,
MLA: “The glory road; The Colson Family.” 1966-03-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 7, 2021. <>.
APA: The glory road; The Colson Family. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from