A 103-year-old grandma has gone viral for sharing her experience picking cotton on TikTok.
Shanika Bradshaw first posted the video on TikTok, which featured her grandmother Madie Scott speaking about her experience when she was just a teen.
The video quickly picked up steam, garnering over 687,000 likes and more than 21,000 comments, as viewers applauded Scott for sharing her perspective as a Black woman who supported her family and witnessed the past century.
“When you think of history, they really don’t talk about the truth,” Bradshaw told Buzzfeed of her grandmother, who raised her and her two brothers after their mom died.
“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,” she added. “This is what happened, these people — not just my grandmother — but other people who built up America and were never acknowledged for it.”
In the viral video, Bradshaw asks her grandmother questions about her experience picking cotton and Scott was quick to respond, informing her how they used the material to make cotton clothes.
She also shared how she would pick cotton every day from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just 50 cents per day.
Scott, who turns 104 on Dec. 8, gave more insight to her past “working in the fields” in her Georgia hometown at the young age of 12. And when Scott turned 16, she decided to move to Miami, Florida in order to make more money working as a sharecropper there.
“I was picking cotton all day,” Scott said of her time as a sharecropper, which is a type of farming in which families rented and worked on a portion of land in return for a share of the crops.
“That’s all there was to do,” Scott added, sharing how she worked beside her sister at one point. “You can work in the house [babysitting or cleaning], but if you work in the field you make the most money.”
And while it was not much pay, Scott shared she continued to work in an effort to give herself a better life as well as for her family.
“Today was the first day that I felt a little sad,” Bradshaw shared. “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 would go onto be a sharecropper for a few more years before she took a job as a cook in Miami Beach. She then went on to became a nanny for a wealthy family and would spend the next 40 years helping to raise and care for their seven kids while she also raising her own.
Scott would often bring her own children to work because the wealthy parents would ask her to stay overnight for one to weeks at a time while they were away.
In the year 1989, Scott was in her 80s and finally stopped working. But she had trouble transitioning from a busy work schedule to retiring.
“I didn’t do like a lot of people that get Social Security. I wasn’t worried about getting no money,” she explained to Buzzfeed. “I used to go to the building in the front [where I used to work] and sit and look at the people working because I missed it.”
Scott wishes that the clip will inspire others to discover more about their ancestors while also encouraging others be thankful for the lives they lead today.
“Ain’t none of these young people will have to go through what I went through to get where I am now,” Scott shared with the outlet. “Oh lord, I wish we had that — how y’all got everything laid out for you [in life] and you know where you’re going. When I was coming up, we didn’t know where we were going, all we know to do was work.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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