Shanika Bradshaw filmed her grandmother, Madie Scott, sharing her experience when she was ateenager. In the 3-minute video, Scott talks about waking up at 3 a.m. to go out to the fields and not being done until 5 p.m.
“How much they was paying you?” Bradshaw asked. “Nothin’,” her grandmother responded. When asked what they used the cotton for, Scott said, “[To] make cotton clothes. What you think they did with it?” As it turns out, she was paid 50 cents per day.
Scott told BuzzFeed that she began “working in the fields” in her hometown in Georgia when she was 12, and later moved to Miami at 16 to make more money as a sharecropper, where she continued to pick cotton. Her sister also joined her at some point.
“That’s all there was to do,” Scott told the outlet. “You can work in the house [babysitting or cleaning], but if you work in the field you make the most money.”
Scott worked as a sharecropper for a few more years before taking a job as a cook in Miami Beach. She then started nannying for a wealthy family and continued to work for them for the next 40 years. She helped raise their seven kids as she raised her own.
“We hear about Christopher Columbus, but we don’t really hear too much of Black history. So I feel it’s important for me to put this out there so people can hear it firsthand,” Bradshaw told BuzzFeed.
“Today was the first day that I felt a little sad,” she continued. “I was asking her about the pay. I asked her if she forgave the people for how she was treated and she said, ‘Yeah, I did forgive them a long time ago. Even though I was overworked and put in so much work and was paid so little.’”
Scott finally stopped working in 1989, when she was in her 80s. She turns 104 on Dec. 8.