African Presence in Georgia

This is the 5th of our Wednesday series that highlights historic Middle Passage/UNESCO Site of Memory markers that have been installed and those locations where a remembrance ceremony was held since MPCPMP incorporated 9 years ago. MPCMP is/was involved in the planning for the installation of most of these markers (indicated by an * next to the state name), and other organizations are/were responsible for some.

Georgia*

In 1526, prior to English colonization, the Spanish with more than 100 enslaved Africans made a brief, unsuccessful attempt at settlement in the Sapelo Bay area. The colony of Georgia was founded by England in 1733 as a planned buffer between British South Carolina and Spanish Florida. It was designed as a colony for Great Britain’s convicted debtors and her poor. Slavery and Africans were banned. By 1751, however, the ban was rescinded and slavery, although practiced for decades before in the colony, was legalized. The state rivaled Virginia and South Carolina in the number of captive African arrivals. The city of Savannah became a major trading and export center, especially as the cotton industry – totally dependent on enslaved labor in the U.S. – expanded in England and New England. Igbo Landing, located on St. Simons Island, is where Africans, in an ultimate act of resistance (1803), drowned themselves after surviving the Middle Passage rather than be held in bondage. Enslaved Africans on the Butler rice plantation near Darien were sold in the largest single auction of Black people in this country; it extended over several days with heavy rain and is known as “The Weeping Time.” Please follow this link to read more about Georgia and slavery and to find resources for additional information: https://southernspaces.org/…/georgia-slavery-georgia-freed…/

This memorial trail is dedicated to the roughly 400 enslaved Africans who were illegally imported aboard the ship Wanderer, which landed on the south end of Jekyll Island, GA, in 1858.
This lighthouse is located at Tybee Island, GA, a deep water port where captive Africans were brought and held in confinement to be sold at auction in Savannah, GA. This island also served as a Middle Passage quarantine location.
In July 2002, Savannah, GA, unveiled a memorial to commemorate the lives of enslaved African people whose forced, unpaid labor was instrumental to the building of the city. The words of Maya Angelou are engraved on the side of the marker: “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others’ excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.”
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