Mexico: Defining the Mix

A great number of the posts for this blog have referred to the history of the U.S. mainland. The African Diaspora includes, obviously, other regions of the Western Hemisphere as well. Mexico is such an example, and as a neighbor of the United States has shared culture, history and even land. Both countries practiced slavery, first of the indigenous people and later Africans and Asians. Both countries are ambivalent in Read More

The Descendant Community

Over centuries, increasing sensitivity to the history of all peoples has been developing. A major example of this is that humanitarians now urge implicit respect for different cultures and beliefs. None of these efforts is more important than protecting and preserving sacred ancestral burial sites and the remains they contain. Recently, the discovery of an African burial ground in Lower Manhattan was a particularly important cultural event. The burial ground Read More

Into Heaven but Not Out of Hell

Visiting Williamsburg, VA during October to foster an academic affiliation, members of the project’s board continuously confronted contradictions that people faced, ignored and rationalized historically to create the United States of America and the New World. Presently several candidates priming to run for the presidential office have continued in that tradition, proudly proclaiming that the United States of America is a country based on Christian ideals blessed by God. In fact, Read More

Slave Ships as Prisons

Several historians and researchers who specialize in the Middle Passage and the Atlantic slave trade have described the slave ships as floating prisons. The previous blogs have described who the captive Africans were by possible ethnic group, region, age, gender, health and skill level. The impact of their removal upon the community was addressed in a limited manner.  Conditions and treatment on the ship has not  been adequately or fully Read More

Source Documents for Visitors to the Blog

Occasionally this blog will provide books, materials and films related to the Middle Passage or the transatlantic slave trade which we have found useful in researching. Books and Texts:  A Mercy by Toni Morrison (2008) This tale challenges the notion of any possibility for humanity, freedom and justice to exist when exercised within a system of enslavement. Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson (2010) Many years in production, Read More

Not One or the Other

Frequently we are encouraged to focus on one thing or the other. In terms of action or response we often are advised to keep it simple but that is not always appropriate. Because the abolitionist movement, particularly in the early 19th century, effectively concentrated on the Middle Passage as a means to graphically dramatize the terrors of the transatlantic slave trade some historians are now dismissive. They contend that the Middle Read More

Why Africans? A Perfect Storm of 159 Years

As a student of American history in college my ongoing questions were, ” Why Africans became the slave of choice in the Western Hemisphere. How and why was their enslavement so pervasive?” Responses ranged from physical: easier to identify; hardier than indigenous and European people; socio-political: their governments and institutions did not have the required international power and structure to protect their members; cultural: they were the pagan “other,” associated Read More

Any Day Will Do

Recently someone asked why we selected August 23rd as the day the project will remember the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition. I could be flippant and state that it’s arbitrary, any day would do since enslavement occurred 365 days/year, but that is not quite true. We have adopted that day because the international community selected it in honor of the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1833. Read More

Human Wastage: The Price of Doing Business

In researching this project, I have started reading The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker (2008). He argues that the African transatlantic slave trade was the first rung in the ladder of global capitalism, or what we know now as a global economy that all governments, many businesses and people are attempting to understand, modify or control. One sentence in the introduction struck a chord because it directly relates to Read More

Brown Trucks

In many ways there are brown trucks everywhere. So many events around the world reinforce our efforts to remember ancestors who suffered the transatlantic slave trade. On August 23, 2011 (The International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition) the UN made a final formal call for the design of the monument to be installed at the UN to memorialize the trade’s horrors, and Irina Bakova who Read More