Vermont Black History Month

Video: Daisy Turner tells father’s first-hand account of the day Lincoln was shot

First in a series about Black Vermonters in history

Vermont Folklife Center video of Daisy Turner of Grafton

Republished from Vermont Folklife Center

A daughter of freed African American slaves, Daisy Turner became a living repository of history. The family narrative entrusted to her began among the Yoruba in West Africa and continued with her own century and more of life.

In 1983, folklorist Jane Beck began a series of interviews with Turner, then one hundred years old and still relating four generations of oral history. Beck uses Turner’s storytelling to build the Turner family saga, using at its foundation the oft-repeated touchstone stories at the heart of their experiences: the abduction into slavery of Turner’s African ancestors; Daisy’s father Alec Turner learning to read; his return as a soldier to his former plantation to kill his former overseer; and Daisy’s childhood stand against racism.

Other stories re-create enslavement and her father’s life in Vermont–in short, the range of life events large and small, transmitted by means so alive as to include voice inflections. Beck, at the same time, weaves in historical research and offers a folklorist’s perspective on oral history and the hazards–and uses–of memory.

Publisher’s Weekly called Beck’s book, “Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga,” a “marvel of scholarly storytelling” and “an engrossing American tale.”

2 replies »

  1. Daisy was one of a kind. I spent time with her over the years from when I was a young child to the early years of my marriage. I saw her sweet caring side and her feisty side. It is nice to hear her voice here again. She sure loved to tell stories and she loved to sing. Daisy would be proud that her stories live on.

  2. I had a nice conversation with Daisy Turner when she was over 100. A grand lady with a great story.

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