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Eyewitness to History

Posted on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010.


In 83 years Callye Fears Chatman’s life has undergone dramatic changes. From her beginnings as the daughter of sharecroppers (“It was my job to carry water to the workers and to ring the dinner bell”), to her educational journey at Clark College in Atlanta, to her work as an educator, to her and her husband’s decision to move their family to a white suburb so their children could attend better schools, Mrs. Chatman witnessed the social, economic, and political changes that shaped the South in the 20th century. Yet, when Mrs. Chatman and her daughter, Faye Capers, participated in the StoryCorps Memory Loss Initiative, Mrs. Chatman did not come to talk about the social and political changes she had lived through. Instead, she wanted most to talk about her mother, who had died a month earlier at age 103.

“It was a true blessing to have five generations and everybody able to communicate with each other,” says Mrs. Chatman of her life with her mother, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. When Faye asked what Mrs. Chatman would write in a letter to her mother, the words sprang forth immediately:

“Dear Mom, how are you doing with the saints up in heaven? I know you are still singing, especially your favorite song, ‘How Great Thou Art.’ We really miss you, but we know you are there with the rest of your family, your eight siblings, your mother and father, and all your friends who passed on before you. So we are looking forward to joining you as well.”

Part of their story was edited by WABE and aired during City Cafe on Tuesday, December 28, 2009.

One Response to “Eyewitness to History”

To preserve the StoryCorps mission and experience for our readers and participants, comments are subject to the StoryCorps Terms of Service. Comments may be held for moderation or removed if deemed offensive or off-topic. Please do not resubmit your comment if you don't see it right away, it will be approved as soon as possible. Thank you.

  • To have lived such a long and eventful life and to have had a mother who lived an even longer one is something that is undoubtably amazing. It must have been a beautiful, scary thing to watch the world slowly but surely morph, change and advance around you.

    Comment from Aliea on March 24, 2010 at 9:57 am - Reply to this Comment

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