Tag Archives: Harriett Tubman

Why Do We Celebrate America

What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?
Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1852

Frederick Douglass (A former slave himself, he became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement) This speech courtesy of The Freeman Institute™.

fd1Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, “may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth”! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate, I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just….

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!…

“What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?” And Thanks my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Story Of The Great Conductor

1-When you think of great women the great conductor has to be at the top or the list. Early in the life of Harriet Tubman, she suffered a traumatic head wound when she was hit by a heavy metal weight thrown by an irate overseer, intending to hit another slave. It struck Tubman instead, which she said “broke my skull.” She later explained her belief that her hair, which “had never been combed and stood out like a bushel basket” might have saved her life.

Bleeding and unconscious, Tubman was returned to her owner’s house where she remained without medical care for two days at which time she was immediately sent back into the fields to work. The injury caused disabling seizures, headaches, powerful visionary and dream activity, and spells of hypersomnia which occurred throughout her entire life.

In 1849, after escaping to Philadelphia she immediately returned to Maryland to rescue the rest of her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Moses never lost a passenger.

“There was one of two things I had a right to,” she explained later, “liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” Slaveholders in the region never knew that “Minty,” the petite, five-foot-tall, disabled slave who had run away years before and never come back, was behind so many slave escapes in their community.

She also carried a revolver and was not afraid to use it. Once a slave agreed to join her expedition there was no turning back – and she threatened to shoot anyone who tried to return. Tubman told the tale of one voyage with a group of fugitive slaves, when morale sank and one man insisted he was going to go back to the plantation. She pointed the gun at his head and said: “You go on or die.”

One of her last missions into Maryland was to retrieve her aging parents. Her father, Ben, had purchased Rit, her mother, in 1855 from Eliza Brodess for twenty dollars. But even when they were both free, the area became hostile to their presence. Two years later, Tubman received word that her father had harbored a group of eight escaped slaves and was at risk of arrest. She traveled to the Eastern Shore and led them north into Canada.

In fact, by the late 1850’s they began to suspect the white abolitionist John Brown was secretly enticing their slaves away from the Eastern Shore before his ill-fated raid on Harper’s Ferry. Tubman was introduced to the insurgent John Brown who advocated the use of violence to destroy slavery. Although she never advocated violence against whites, she agreed with his course of direct action and supported his goals.

Like Tubman, he spoke of being called by God, and trusted the divine to protect him from the wrath of slaveholders. She claimed to have had a prophetic vision of meeting Brown before their encounter. Tubman did help Brown as he began recruiting supporters for an attack on slaveholders and referred to her as “General Tubman.”

Her knowledge of support networks and resources in the border states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware was invaluable to Brown and his planners. Unlike other abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison who did not endorse his tactics, Brown dreamed of fighting to create a new state for freed slaves, and made preparations for military action. After he began the first battle, he believed slaves would rise up and carry out a rebellion across the south. He asked Tubman to gather former slaves then living in Canada who might be willing to join his fighting force, which she did.

Tubman was busy during this time, giving talks to abolitionist audiences and tending to her relatives causing her to be unaware of the actual attack. So in the autumn of 1859, as Brown and his men prepared to launch the attack on Harpers Ferry, Tubman was not present. The raid failed; Brown was convicted of treason and hanged in December. His actions were seen by abolitionists as a symbol of proud resistance, carried out by a noble martyr. Tubman herself was effusive with praise. She later told a friend: “He done more in dying, than 100 men would in living.”

She was the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War. She guided the raid on the Combahee River, liberating more than seven hundred slaves. In addition, during the war she worked as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the woman’s suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African-Americans she had helped open years earlier.

Tubman returned to Auburn at the end of the war. During a train ride to New York, the conductor told her to move into the smoking car. She refused, explaining her government service. He cursed at her and grabbed her, but she resisted and he summoned two other passengers for help. While she clutched at the railing, they muscled her away, breaking her arm in the process. They threw her into the smoking car, causing more injuries. As these events transpired, other white passengers cursed Tubman and shouted for the conductor to kick her off the train.

Her constant humanitarian work for her family and former slaves, meanwhile, kept her in a state of constant poverty, and her difficulties in obtaining a government pension were especially taxing for her. Tubman spent her remaining years in Auburn, tending to her family and other people in need. She worked various jobs to support her elderly parents, and took in boarders to help pay the bills. Tubman’s friends and supporters from the days of abolition, meanwhile, raised funds to relieve her poverty.

As Tubman aged, the sleeping spells and suffering from her childhood head trauma continued to plague her. By 1911, her body was so frail that she had to be admitted into the rest home named in her honor. A New York newspaper described her as “ill and penniless,” prompting supporters to offer a new round of donations. Surrounded by friends and family members, Harriet Tubman died of pneumonia on March 10, 1913. Just before she died, she told those in the room: “I go to prepare a place for you.”

 

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


History’s Most Courageous Harriet Tubman

1Harriet Tubman, in my opinion, was the most courageous woman who ever lived, and my personal hero. Hidden in the tiny “dash” on her marker is her life’s work of being the great conductor of the Underground Railroad, a scout, spy, and nurse during the Civil War.

Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross sometimes referred to as “Moses.” The date of her actual birth is suspect because as a slave accurate birth records were not kept. Therefore, no one can say for sure as to the actual date. She always proclaimed her birth as 1825 but most historians believe she was born around 1820 or 1821.

After escaping from the slavery into which she was born, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She once remarked that she could have saved a lot more if they had only known they were slaves. Her courage was that of unimaginable proportion because death was the penalty for such work.

Early in her life, she was told that she was of Ashanti lineage from what is now Ghana where her grandmother was captured. Her mother, Rit, struggled to keep their family together as slavery tried to tear it apart. Edward Brodess sold three of her daughters separating them from the family forever.

Once a trader from Georgia approached Brodess about buying Rit’s youngest son Moses; she hid him for a month, aided by other slaves and free blacks in the community. At one point she even confronted her owner about the sale. Finally, Brodess and “the Georgia man” came toward the slave quarters to seize the child where Rit told them: “You are after my son, but the first man that comes into my house I will split his head open.” Brodess backed away and abandoned the sale.

Because Tubman’s mother was assigned to “the big house” and had scarce time for her own family, as a child Tubman took care of a younger brother and a baby. At the age of five or six, she was hired out to a woman named “Miss Susan” as a nursemaid. Tubman was ordered to keep watch on her baby as it slept. When it woke or cried, Tubman was whipped.

She told of a particular day when she was lashed five times before breakfast. She carried these scars for the rest of her life. Threatened later for stealing a lump of sugar, Tubman hid in a neighbor’s pig sty for five days, where she fought with the animals for scraps of food. Starving, she returned to Miss Susan’s house and received a heavy beating.

Tubman was beaten and whipped regularly by her various masters to whom she had been hired out. She learned to protect herself from such abuse by wrapping herself in layers of clothing but cried out as if she was not protected. Tubman also worked as a child for a planter where her job was to go into nearby marshes to check the muskrat traps.

Even after contracting the measles, she was sent into waist high cold water. She became very ill and was sent back to her master. Her mother nursed her back to health, whereupon she was immediately hired out again to various farms. As she grew older and stronger, she was assigned to grueling field and forest work: driving oxen, plowing, and hauling logs.

Tubman’s father Ben was released from slavery at the age of forty-five, as stipulated in a former owner’s will, though his real age was closer to fifty-five. He continued working as a timber estimator and foreman for the Thompson family, who had owned him as a slave.

Several years later, Tubman contacted a white attorney and paid him five dollars to investigate her mother’s legal status. The lawyer discovered that a former owner had issued instructions that Rit, like her husband, would be manumitted at the age of forty-five. The record showed that a similar provision would apply to Rit’s children and that any children born after she reached forty-five years of age were legally free, but her owners ignored this stipulation.

Around 1844, she married a free black man named John Tubman. Although little is known about him or their time together, the union was complicated due to her slave status. Since the mother’s status dictated that of her children, any children born to Harriet and John would be enslaved. As a result of her master’s death the likelihood that Tubman would be sold increased and the family would be broken apart as their master’s widow would sell the family’s slaves. Tubman refused to wait for her owner’s family to decide her fate, despite her husband John’s efforts to dissuade her.

She escaped to Philadelphia and returned to Maryland to find her husband. However, John had married another woman named Caroline. Tubman sent word that he should join her, but he insisted that he was happy where he was. Tubman at first prepared to storm their house and make a scene but decided he was not worth the trouble. Suppressing her anger, she found some slaves who wanted to escape and led them to Philadelphia. John and Caroline raised a family together until he was killed sixteen years later in a roadside argument with a white man.

It is said, that she freed hundreds but when asked she said I could have saved many more if they only knew they were slaves. I don’t know what it says on her final marker but it should contain a simple inscription that says – “Servant of God”. In my opinion, she was the most significant black woman in our history!  And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season

AMAZON


A Slave Holiday Experience

African Americans are, arguably, the most religious people on the face of the earth and have always been since arriving in this place the slaves called “merica.” With that said, I am sure many have wondered, in spite of the wretched system of slavery; how was it celebrated by the slave population?

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, these holidays conjured up visions of freedom and even the opportunity to bring about their freedom. Still, others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose, if there was ever any joy, it might well have been during the Christmas holidays for the enslaved African Americans. At least their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. The prosperity and relaxed discipline associated with Christmas often enabled slaves to interact in ways that they could not during the rest of the year.

They customarily received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy, or a present above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude and prosperity that made a formal wedding possible.

On the plantation, the transfer of Christmas gifts from master to slave was often accompanied by a curious ritual. On Christmas day, “it was always customary in those days to catch people’s Christmas gifts, and they would give you something.” Slaves and children would lie in wait for these pittances.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life, and death are recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family who were owned by different masters and who lived on other properties, slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends.” Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape at Christmas.

Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until after the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

Christmas could represent not only physical freedom but spiritual freedom, as well as the hope for better things to come. The main protagonist of Martha Griffin Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, Ann, found little positive value in the slaveholder’s version of Christmas equating it with “all sorts of culinary preparations” and extensive house cleaning rituals but she saw the possibility for a better future in the story of the life of Christ.

“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . this Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. Rather, Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey.” He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded that “all the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.” While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know, and it was not all that grand occasion! That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season

The Curse Of Willie Lynch

028_160Some have proclaimed that a slave was born, rather than made. I disagree with this notion because a slave was made using a defined calculated and well thought-out plan devised for the purpose of being a beast of burden. Let me say first that we know the supposed Willie Lynch litter is fictitious, but the scheme is very real and white folks know the plan because it protects white supremacy.

We know the reasons for this atrocity were designed to build a nation and to obtain wealth for the culprits. But what is not understood, en mass, is how it was designed and made sustainable. That part has become little more than a footnote to history. Yes, the Lynch letter is believed to be fictitious but in every lie, there is some truth. Frankly, what better way to disguise the truth than to tell you it is a lie!

I’m reminded of the powerful words of Harriet Tubman, who expressed succinctly the effectiveness of this system of mental conditioning. She was asked shortly before her death if she knew how many slaves she freed while conducting the Underground Railroad. She did not think about it, replying quickly, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves.”

From that dreadful day in 1619 when the first Africans were dragged onto the shores of Jamestown VA until today where we’ve witnessed the first man of color elected President of these United States. Or as Jesse put it – from the outhouse to the White House, there is no doubt that our story is the greatest story ever told. As it is said in Scripture, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” But let’s understand that there was a plan, a sinister plan, conceived at some point to ensure that people of African descent remain the least of thee.

Here is a look at the plan; as the story goes, a British slave owner from the West Indies was invited to Virginia sometime during the year 1712 to teach his methods to slave owners. Willie Lynch was the name of the man credited with a speech delivered on the banks of the James River. It is noteworthy to mention that the James River was named for the diabolical King of England, who was ironically the same guy responsible for the twenty-eighth version of the cherished Holy Bible.

Lynch brought with him, as he put it, a foolproof method for controlling black slaves that will last for a thousand years. Consequently, it is believed the term “lynching” was derived from his last name as a way to pay homage to him for delivering this ingenious approach. The name Willie Lynch is interesting because it may be a simple play on words. For example, Will Lynch or Will he Lynch. Whatever the reason, it no doubt had significant psychological implications that played heavily on a naive race of people.

Lynch began his historical presentation with a warm greeting:

“Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems. I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. My method is simple… The black slave after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands…..” The seeds of devastation were fertilized, and the process of destruction was underway for the making a race into slaves.

In the speech, Lynch outlined a number of differences among the slaves. He stressed to his audience that they should take these differences and make them bigger. These differences included such things as age, color, intelligence, fine hair vs. coarse hair, tall vs. short, male vs. female. These tactics were not new; however, they were more than likely put together collectively for this specific purpose for the first time as keys to control.

This short eight paragraph speech was profound in that it was the embodiment of the cruelest demoralizing agenda ever imposed upon a people since the days when the Romans crucified our Lord. As Lynch closed his speech that day, he said, “They must love, respect and trust only us.” This is the key to producing a successful strategy. Whether this story is true or not, and it has caused much speculation. However, as history demonstrates, a manufactured plan was developed by someone to achieve these results that continue to this day.

The Willie Lynch letter first appeared in the early 1970s gaining widespread notice during the nineties, when it began appearing on the Internet. Since then, it has often been promoted as an authentic account of slavery during the 18th century, but its inaccuracies and anachronisms have led historians to conclude that it is a hoax. Let’s be honest; I don’t think any reasonable person would think that those persons present if there was such a meeting, took written notes. However, the same reasonable thinking person can see that there was a designed plan created by someone in order to sustain such division. It may have been something as simple as “divide and conquer.”

So let’s suppose the Willie Lynch story is a modern creation, either the concept was ingenious or the biggest urban myth ever. Then it begs the question, why are we still fighting amongst ourselves. Further, how can the ruling people, or anyone for that matter, justify a philosophy for building and maintaining a government that sanctioned murder, among other atrocities, to enslave human beings? I know and mind you, I was not taught this in school nor did anyone explain that the government, through legislative sessions, passed laws to ensure that our bondage was sustained.

This wicked system was sanctioned by the church in the name of God. It is important to understand when the church endorsed slavery and the vehicle that drove it; this meant in the eyes of the system that God himself authorized this immoral agenda. If this was the mentality of the church, and it is a historical fact that religion sanctioned and justified enslaving people for centuries. Therefore, it begs the question, does that mentality still exist, and the question is “are you a slave”?

The answer to the question was not so much the Willie Lynch letter that enslaved a nation of people; rather it was the Bible! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

AMAZON


America’s Shocking and Ugly Truth

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Enough said, and that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Never Forget The Horror of Slavery

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This is the sad horrible history the confederate flag lovers want to hold onto – slavery. The despicable history began on a August day in the year of our Lord 1619, a day that will live in infamy. It was the day the horrors of a particular heart-wrenching event that cemented black life into bondage and unimaginable struggle that lasted centuries. We must teach our children and never forget! So let’s journey back to the scene of the crime.

The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America, was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture, and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. HIS-Story describes this as the “starving times,” but all would change.

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo onboard a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into the shores of Jamestown, Virginia, carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers.” They were regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves; fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony, through the use of the Africans, had established a successful economy based on tobacco.

Slavery was born, and the slave trade became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime ever inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sanctioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified slavery. The next two-hundred years were a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through indoctrination, brutality, savagery, and terror.

I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there was nothing civil about the institution of slavery. To be clear, a slave is chattel – a human being considered property and servant for life. The business of slave trading had one purpose – profit. The process would begin with an African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, captured other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell these captives to Europeans. Now, if stealing and capturing the victims was not misery enough, what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

This horrible journey, known as the “Middle Passage”, ended with a lifetime of bondage awaiting the captives at the end of the voyage. A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal, would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the cargo ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four would be found dead each morning. Africans from Senegal were the most prized commodity because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their high suicide rate.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb-like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles – crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus,” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called Jamestown? The devastating effects of bondage would have an effect on the race of people for centuries.

I will continue to pray that we will be able, one day, to join hands and sing that old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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