“This slave pass is one of three found in 1934 in a Book of Common Prayer. The book was donated to the College of Charleston by Daniel Horlbeck in 1875.”
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Organizers say a $75 million International African American Museum will be built beside the Charleston harbor where tens of thousands of slaves first set foot in the United States.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announced Tuesday that the museum will be built near where a wharf once stood in the South Carolina city where the Civil War began.
During the late 1770s and early 1800s, tens of thousands of slaves crossed the wharf entering the nation. Riley says there is no better site for the museum. The location is on the waterfront, just down and across the street from the original site planned for the museum.
The project was first announced 13 years ago.
Riley says construction on the 42,000-square-foot museum could begin in early 2016 with completion in 2018.
Here are three marriage certificates for formerly enslaved people, out of the many in the records of the National Archives. In their tallies of children borne and notes about separations through sale and military service, such certificates tell small histories of families’ lives under slavery.
Luiz Pinto, who has been fighting eviction for decades, at home with his dog. (Carolina Ramirez/The Huffington Post)
When Luiz Pinto was growing up, his parents wouldn’t let the family talk about slavery. The issue raised ugly memories.
Pinto’s grandmother was born into slavery. She threw herself into a river before Pinto was born, taking her own life after the son of a wealthy, white landowner raped her. The subjects of slavery and racism became taboo in the Pinto household, a sprawling set of orange brick homes perched on a hilltop where Rio de Janeiro’s famed statue of Christ the Redeemer is visible in the distance through the trees.
“I only knew her from photographs,” says Pinto, a 72-year-old samba musician.
These days, Brazil’s legacy of slavery takes up much of Pinto’s time. He travels across the state of Rio de Janeiro and back and forth to the capital in Brasília, more than 700 miles away, to lobby for the land rights of people who live in communities said to be founded by runaway slaves. Such communities are known in Portuguese as “quilombos.” According to Brazilian law, residents of quilombos have a constitutional right to land settled by their ancestors — and that right, though rarely fulfilled, is quietly revolutionizing the country’s race relations.
In the past year, as all eyes turned toward Brazil in anticipation of the World Cup, international media offered ample coverage of the country’s staggering inequality. Reports have highlighted the stark contrast between Brazil’s hardscrabble slums and its glittering soccer stadiums. What has received less attention is the civil rights movement gradually gaining momentum throughout the country.
Read more here.
Historic Marker ~ Kristopher Monroe
Two miles west of downtown Savannah, Georgia, sits a historical marker in the center of a small plot of a fenced in city park. The triangular park measures not more than a fifth of an acre. The surrounding neighborhood is one of the most distressed and depressed sections of the city.
The marker was dedicated on March 3, 2008, 149 years after the slave auction occurred, and at the commemoration ceremony then-mayor Otis Johnson—only the second African-American to hold that office—offered up a short speech honoring the enslaved men and women whose labor helped build the oldest city in the state of Georgia. At the ceremony a local man handed out dirt from Nigeria to be sprinkled around the marker and Mayor Johnson poured water over the dirt to consecrate the ground.
And that’s it for the city’s commemoration of the event known as the Weeping Time. Contrast that with the towering monument to the Confederate dead that has stood for over a century smack in the center of one of the city’s largest public parks.
The Weeping Time acquired its name colloquially, by the slaves and their descendants, because of reports that the sky opened up and poured down rain for the full two days of the auction. It was said that the heavens were weeping for the inhumanity that was being committed.
The event wasn’t just notable because of the size of the auction. In 1859 the country was on the verge of a national bloodbath, and the historic threads that weave through the story of the Weeping Time are so far-reaching and remarkable, it’s perplexing that more hasn’t been written or remembered about this time.
Read more here.
WIDE ANGLE | Brazil in Black and White | PBS
The national Tula Monument in Curacao commemorates the slave rebellion of 1795.
Specifically, the original black settlers of Priceville, Ontario, Canada, whose long-time presence and contributions have been mostly ignored.
Servants of Allah presents a history of African Muslims, following them from West Africa to the Americas. Although many assume that what Muslim faith they brought with them to the Americas was quickly absorbed into the new Christian milieu, as Sylviane A. Diouf demonstrates in this meticulously-researched, groundbreaking volume, Islam flourished during slavery on a large scale. She details how, even while enslaved, many Muslims managed to follow most of the precepts of their religion. Literate, urban, and well-traveled, they drew on their organization, solidarity and the strength of their beliefs to play a major part in the most well-known slave uprisings. But for all their accomplishments and contributions to the history and cultures of the African Diaspora, the Muslims have been largely ignored.
Charles William Peale’s 1819 portrait of Yarrow Mamout, a Muslim and former slave who died a free man ~ PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
African Slaves Were the 1st to Celebrate Ramadan in America by Khaled A. Beydoun
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second-most-practiced faith in 20 of these united states. And these demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los Angeles-based imam to comment recently that “Ramadan is a new American tradition.” The cleric’s forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam’s recent arrival in the U.S. But this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot of Muslim Americans today—an inability to look back and embrace the opening chapters of Muslim-American history, one that was written by enslaved African Muslims.
Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or “as many as 600,000 to 1.2 million,” slaves in antebellum America were Muslims. Forty-six percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims.”
These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.
Between Sunna and Slave Codes
Although the Quran “allows a believer to abstain from fasting if he or she is far from home or involved in strenuous work,” many enslaved Muslims demonstrated transcendent piety by choosing to fast while in bondage. In addition to abstaining from food and drink, enslaved Muslims held holy-month prayers in slave quarters and put together iftars—meals at sundown to break the fast—that brought observing Muslims together. These prayers and iftars violated slave codes restricting assembly of any kind.
For instance, the Virginia Slave Code of 1723 considered the assembly of five slaves an “unlawful and tumultuous meeting,” convened to plot rebellion attempts. Every state in the South codified similar laws barring slave assemblages, which disparately impacted enslaved African Muslims observing the holy month.
Practicing Islam, therefore, and observing Ramadan and its fundamental rituals, for enslaved Muslims in antebellum America, necessitated the violation of slave codes. This exposed them to barbaric punishment, injury and, oftentimes, even death. However, the courage to observe the holy month while bonded, and in the face of grave risk, highlights the supreme piety of many enslaved Muslims.
Ramadan was widely observed by enslaved Muslims. Yet this history is largely ignored by Muslim-American leaders and laypeople alike—and erased from the modern Muslim-American narrative.
Read more here.