Charlie Mitchell was born into slavery in Lynchburg in 1852. His narrative, recorded many years after Mitchell left Virginia and moved to Texas, provides a glimpse of Central Virginia slave owners’ view of slaves’ literacy:
Course, I didn’t git no schoolin’. The white folks said niggers don’t need no larnin’. Some niggers larnt to write their initials on the barn door with charcoal, then they try to find out who done that, the white folks, I mean, and say they cut his fingers off ‘iffen they jus’ find out who done it.