Throughout the compelling true story of Della Raye Rogers, her determination, strength, and faith stand as testaments of the enduring resilience of the human spirit against adversity.
For twenty years, Della Raye lived at the Partlow State Asylum for Mental Deficients in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Left there by her uncle in 1929 at the age of four, along with her mother, aunt, and brother, she would know her mother only as another threat the attendants of the institution employed against her. She was subjected to beatings, made to work like a slave, and was given little formal education.
Growing up as she did, a small child in a world of people suffering from a variety of mental disabilities, it is amazing that for twenty years she would continue to hope that she would someday be free, that she would continue to fight to be treated with basic respect, and that she would emerge, finally, a whole and vital adult. Della Raye not only continued to hope and to fight, for her trials were not ended with her release, but she learned to forgive those who sought, by intent or by inaction, to destroy her.
Della Raye became a beautician and married Floyd Hughes, a widower with five daughters, in 1951. Together they also had two boys, Donny and Butch. She has visited a number of the people who worked at Partlow in nursing homes and hospitals and has remained in contact with many of the people she met during her confinement.