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Hundreds of letters about the importance of The I WAS A SLAVE Book Collection have been received from grade-school children, ministers, inmates, teachers, genealogical societies, universities, governmental leaders, and many others.


“You can quote me, but please don't mention my name because I'm embarrassed. I've been teaching history for over 30 years. When I stepped into the auditorium, I thought that I knew the WPA slave narratives inside and out. I admit that I was arrogant. Donna Howell educated me. She's a bona fide expert -- she's THE expert. To those people who read this, I emphasize that you should hear her!”

A professor from a university in the South

“Ms. Howell, what can I say? You were a truly remarkable speaker for our program. The audience filled our auditorium and overflowed into an auxiliary room [in which there was a large-screen monitor]. We made the perfect choice in selecting you for our speaker.”

-- Robert J. Poindexter
National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC

You were a marvelous! We certainly picked the best speaker for our program. I'll happily recommend you to our other chapters so that everyone will know about you and your books.

Shirley A. Jones, Esquire
President, U.S. Government Accounting Office's chapter of Blacks In Government

Former Member of Congress


Professor Diana L. Hayes, Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Letter of Recommendation

The challenges faced by American slaves were brought powerfully alive by Donna Wyant Howell during a special class here on the campus of Georgetown University. She displayed a wealth of knowledge when conveying what life was like on plantations through the eyes of those who experienced slavery first-hand.

For the first time, many students received a glimpse of the reality behind the events that took place during such a long period in America’s history. The true-life accounts, read in Southern dialect, brought new meaning and understanding to the class. “I have studied the Civil War era and slavery very well … or so I thought,” said one student, “Today I learned the human element. It was as if the ex-slaves rose up to tell us what they went through, what they wanted their descendents and all of America to know.” “Real, that’s what it was,” remarked another classmate, “Long Sally and Short Sally lived through it. Others told what really happened, not like the ‘cleansed history’ that I’ve studied before.”

When the class met again, we discussed the previous session. Donna’s impressive presentation left the students wanting more. Because she had time restraints, only an overview could be included, but even that limited amount of information intrigued the class members who were glued to her words, waiting for the next revelation.

Because the focus of our class is on women and religion, those areas of slave life were emphasized. The main point that Donna impressed upon the students was the diversity of the methods of operation on each plantation. Religious practices, the roles of women, and all else were variable because they were based on the decisions of each slave owner. She read excerpts from the dictated words of women who strove to maintain family relations under the most adverse conditions, and she told of requirements for and prohibitions of religious observances by slaves, including “praying in the pot”.

I recommend Donna Wyant Howell to all who wish to have a speaker or instructor who brings her enthusiasm to the slave narratives. With obvious in-depth knowledge, she creates a presentation that is enlightening and very thought-provoking. After you have heard her, your previous understanding of slavery, as well-educated as it may be, will be enhanced and you will come away with an even greater comprehension coupled with a profound sense of emotional contact with the former slaves themselves.

Most Sincerely,

Diana L. Hayes, JD, Ph.D., STD
Associate Professor



Reverend Bob Hailey,
Sponsor of the Special Speakers' Series in California that included Ms. Howell,
Maya Angelou, and other notable speakers in separate programs

1545 Rosemarie Lane
Stockton, California 95207


Dear Ms. Howell:

People are still talking about how much they learned and how they will pass the information on to their families and friends. They were most complimentary of your level of knowledge and the compassion that was evident in your presentation.

Several commented that, from the time you stood up, you were with the audience. We felt your spirit and the deep commitment that you have for telling the truth about the strength and endurance of our ancestors. We needed to hear your message for it helped to reaffirm the belief in the greatness of our people and how we have a responsibility to pass this greatness on to our people, especially the children.

We thank you for adding such valuable information to our lives and for introducing us to our many ancestral families. Their stories will live forever in our lives and, when we feel weak, we will remember their strengths and we will be strong.

May God continue to bless you and give you strength to continue your good and valuable work and service.



Rev. Bob Hailey



“I learned more in one hour about that part of America's past from Ms. Howell than I've learned in the whole time I've been in school -- and I'm a senior!”

a 21-year-old student at Hiram College in Ohio
(name withheld because his instructors might read this)

Keynote Speaker
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