White folks you can have your automobiles, paved streets and lights. You can have your buses, and street cars, and hot pavement and tall buildings cause I aint got no use for em no way. I tell you what I do want--I want my old cotton bed and the moonlight shining through the willow trees, and the cool grass under my feet while I run around catching lightening bugs. I want to feel the sway of the old wagon, going down the red, dusty road, and listening to the wheels groaning as they roll along. I want to sink my teeth into that old ash cake.White folks, I want to see the boats passing up and down the Alabammy river and hear the slaves singing at their work. I want to see dawn break over the black ridge and the twilight settle over the place spreading an orange hue. I want to walk the paths through the woods and see the rabbits and the birds and the frogs at night...But they took me away from that a long time ago. Weren't long before I married and had children, but don't none of em contribute to my support now. One of them was killed in the big war with German, and the rest is all scattered out--eight of em. Now I just live from hand to mouth. Here one day, somewhere else the next. I guess we all gonna die iffin this depression don't let us alone. Maybe someday I'll get to go home. They tell me that when a person crosses over that river, the Lord gives him what he wants. I don told the Lord I don't want nothing much---only my home, white folks. I don't think that's much to ask for. I suppose he'll send me back there. I been waiting a long time for him to call.
I would make a few observations about this apparently happy recollection of slave life. First, this is a lonely old woman in a grim city remembering her girlhood in the country when she was surrounded by family. We all recognize the forgetfulness of nostalgia in such circumstances. Second, while I assume that very few slaves "liked" slavery, I suspect that they reacted to it in different ways. Some hated it with a furor that shaped their lives, while others made the best of a bad situation and took whatever opportunities came their way -- becoming foremen or learning skilled jobs, for example -- even if that meant acting obsequious to the man. Some slaves formed bonds of friendship or even love with their masters. I have already noted somewhere the slaves who were observed searching the battlefield of Gettysburg for their masters' bodies. It is also worth pointing out that while slavery was a bad thing for most, its elimination did not solve the problems of ex-slaves, who remained poor and suffered severe discrimination.
The complexity of human life is so great that very few general statements describe all of it, even one so basic as "freedom is better than slavery."