Last night I was treated to an overview of an exhibit currently being featured at the Missouri History Museum on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. This exhibit is unique because is deals with the economic benefits of slavery and how slave labor helped build the Americas. Slavery is a touchy subject for some, but an emotional subject for most. It is a part of the collective history of every American and yes, it was the fuel that drove the engine of the American economy.
The curator clicked on a slide of neck, arm and leg irons. She said in a soft voice "we found remnants of sand in these irons". And I shuddered. My eyes grew moist. The lump that emerged in my throat was the result of a sad and hollow anger that lacks heat because it knows that this crime, like so many against humanity, will see no justice. Somehow the thought of sand being trapped in those irons made it clear that they held a human being who lived and walked and touched a beach in a state of bondage.
I am humbled by the fact that my ancestors overcame inconceivable fear, a horror that is the marriage of bondage and lost hope. Each year the history represented by those leg irons grows more distant and seems less real. But there was sand in them. People were bound by them. They raised their master's children, harvested our nations crops. That sand in those irons cries out to me "I was!" and I want to shout back in my AngryBlackBitch voice "Because of you, I am!".
Visit and explore the economic contributions of the African in America during slavery.
Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas at the Missouri History Museum. This free exhibit opened Sunday 2/6/05 and explores the role of the trade of Africans in the building of the Americas. The Missouri History Museum also has permanent exhibits on African American history and culture. On exhibit through August 2005.