the year of LIVING UNOFFICIALLY

365 days of celebration

25
March

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Posted by Brittany

20110325SlaveryMuseumSite-FburgVA-3To commemorate this important day Chris and I headed South to downtown Fredericksburg. We parked our car and walked a short distance to the salon where we get our hair cut every couple of months, at the corner of Charles and William Street. Just a few steps from the front door stands a stone block that served as the auction block for slaves imported into the Fredericksburg area, touted as “the best place to sell slaves in the State.” Now the stone is marked with a plaque dedicated in 1984, but due to its short stature (its only a couple of feet tall) and awkward placement it is often completely unnoticed by the passerby. Still, it remains an important part of Fredericksburg’s history, and despite controversies surrounding it in the early part of the 20th century, the monument to slavery and its cruelties remains today.

My parents called me earlier this evening and apparently while we were visiting the auction block in downtown Frederickbsburg, they were just a couple of miles away in Celebrate, VA. They had visited the site of the now defunct U.S. National Slavery Museum. I know embarrassingly little about the museum, but from what I understand, a lot of great plans were put in place but the project is indefinitely in limbo. As recently as the last couple of months our Governor has expressed support for the important museum, but as of right now all that stands on the proposed site is the outdoor ‘Spirit of Freedom Garden’. My parents said the garden was closed and overgrown, but they did get some pictures from outside the gate. It looks like its full of poignant art, including African-inspired sculptures and a giant statue of an enslaved person in chains.

When we returned home this evening we watched Secrets of the Dead: Slave Ship Mutiny. The 2001 TV documentary tells the dramatic story of a 1766 slave revolt on the Dutch East Indies Company ship the Meermin. The outcome of the uprising is a sad story, with many lives lost and the heroic leader of the rebellion, Massavana, ending up imprisoned on the infamous Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned centuries later). In spite of its unfortunate outcome, the tale speaks volumes about the human species:

It is not only our right, but also our innate need to be free — no matter the cost.

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