Periodically we respond or address issues that surface from our reading. Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape is a recently published work by Mount Holyoke earth science professor Lauret Savoy that merits attention. Her writing is lyrical and thought-provoking. Geographical landscapes and language related to memory and history are her references as she places those living in the present in a broader historical context. Even the meaning of Read More

Skill and Talent

In several posts over the past months, passing reference has been made to the fact that European explorers and conquerors were accompanied in the “New World” by Africans, many of whom were enslaved. Yet in most cases, until recently, people of African heritage were historical footnotes, if mentioned at all. For example, it is not an exaggeration to say that the white American explorers Lewis and Clark and Robert Peary Read More

The First and the Forced

Over the last two weeks, the issues of law and race surfaced while board members were traveling in the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi). Previously these states were frontier regions, territories exchanged frequently among European nations, and heavily populated by Native peoples and Africans. To this day, their histories and even current conditions are based on race relations over centuries. On an estate in Albany, Georgia, once the largest Read More

Myths of Creation

In the British Virginia Colony during the summer of 1619, two events took place within weeks of each other that would shape the United States of America in profoundly contradictory ways.  One event was the initial legislative assembly of Englishmen meeting in Jamestowne from July 30 to August 4. The other event was the arrival at Point Comfort of a Dutch slaver during the third week in August, when according Read More

Credit and Debt: A World of Trouble?

Although this blog writer is not a trained economist, patterns can be discerned. Debt, credit, and product are the means to power and control for a select group of people in the world. The history and development of the Western Hemisphere easily illustrates this. Most modern societies are built upon credit: the good kind known as investment and the bad kind known as debt. During the initial expansion of the Read More

Canada: Africans to the North

According to the 2006 Canadian Census, 2.5 percent of its citizens are of African descent. Many surmise that this represents people entirely emigrating from the US on the Underground Railroad, from the West Indies and Africa during the 19th Century to the present. Yet contrary to this popular perception, Canada’s history with Africans and their enslavement is a long one. As in every nation in the Americas, there was an 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