Monday, June 1, 2015

Slave ship ruins reveal horrid conditions Africans endured

Yesterday's New York Times featured the article "Grim History Traced in Sunken Slave Ship Found Off South Africa." People have been sharing the story on Facebook and Twitter.

The article tells some of the disturbing details of abuse 400 to 500 Africans endured on the São José Paquete Africa before the slave ship sank not far from the Cape of Good Hope. Unfortunately, the detestable conditions they faced were typical of slave ships.

Some people reading the article have been shocked to hear how Africans were forced onto these ships and squeezed into cargo holds like livestock for a four-month journey to the shores of the Americas and Europe.

But Lonnie Bunch, the founder of the African American History Museum at the Smithsonian knows this horrid history and of even worse traumas the enslaved suffered. So, he gets that the lives lost during these treacherous journeys, also known as the Middle Passage, and the lives of those who suffered in bondage later deserve a dignified remembrance.

Here's how their memories will be honored at the museum Bunch runs.
The space in the museum for the items pulled from the sea, he said, will include recordings of voices describing the slave trade — “a place,” Mr. (Lonnie) Bunch said, “for you to mourn and to remember.”
This is the attitude we've hoped the architect behind the current design of the proposed National Slave Ship Museum would have adopted. But his vision as shared with the Times Picayune last week reveals again that he just doesn't get it. Remembering the humans who traveled to this country in shackles as well as those that did not survive the journey should not be an entertaining moment or a time to make everyone feel better than he felt at the Holocaust Museum.

James doesn't understand that a slave ship replica as a tourism boat and the Middle Passage as an indoor "simulation ride"he claims will let museum visitors "experience as a slave their journey at sea" is just wrong. The only outcome of such a presentation will be a distortion of history that creates more tension and misunderstanding between ethnic groups in America.

Please sign the petition, if you haven't already, and share it so we can stop the current plan for the NSSM from moving forward.

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