A 103-year-old woman shared her personal account of picking cotton as a teenager in a series of TikTok videos that went viral.
Shanika Bradshaw asks her grandmother, Maddie Scott, questions about the back-breaking job that paid her just 50 cents per day for working in the field from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"I was picking cotton all day," Scott told Buzzfeed, adding,"That's all there was to do."
"You can work in the house [babysitting or cleaning], but if you work in the field you make the most money," she recalled.
Scott was just 12 when she started working in the fields of her Georgia hometown as part of the system of exploitation called sharecropping that arose after slavery ended. Many Black families rented land and equipment from white landlords to plant crops. In most case, the tenants were kept in debt and shackled to the system.
Scott shares her experience as a sharecropper in the video below.
By 16, Scott moved to Miami to make more money working as a sharecropper there. She later became a cook in Miami Beach before working 40 years for a wealthy family as a nanny, according to Buzzfeed.
"When you think of history, they really don't talk about the truth," Bradshaw told Buzzfeed. "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 continued, "This is what happened, these people — not just my grandmother — but other people who built up America and were never acknowledged for it."
Scott finally retired at 80, but it wasn’t an easy transition.
"I didn't do like a lot of people that get Social Security. I wasn't worried about getting no money," she explained to the news outlet. "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.”
Bradshaw told Buzzfeed that Scott, who raised her and her siblings after their mother died, forgave the people who exploited and mistreated her.
The centenarian said sharing her life experience on video was an opportunity to tell her truth, especially with young people.
"Ain't none of these young people will have to go through what I went through to get where I am now," Scott said. "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."