Stacked on top of each other, like blacks inside of a juke joint gyrating to the sounds, they came together; crammed close enough to feel the sweat from their neighbor’s pores and to smell the stench of feces and urine throughout the journey. It’s no secret the images seen in Amistad reflected the reality of slave transports, an image repeated over and over on others on ships, such as The Henrietta Marie, Wanderer, Wildfire, and Lord Ligonier.
Imagine the post-traumatic stress after experiencing those smells for weeks, hearing limbs break and the cries of peers, and being separated from your family. Envision walking with heavy, thick chains weighing down your body, wounds exposed due to constant chafing of metal against your flesh. You glance back at the vessel on which you traveled and see the beautiful work of God, the ocean, which once provided a sense of tranquility and magnificence. Your new life begins.
Late nights and early mornings started long before Marsha Ambrosious’s chart-topping 2011 album “Late Nights & Early Mornings.” Our ancestors have been singing such songs since 1619, the year credited with the start of the modern slavery movement.
During slavery, late nights and early mornings involved working in the sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, rice and indigo fields. In the mountains, the enslaved produced lumber. To avoid minimizing the talents of those enslaved, let’s just say they did everything inside and outside plantation homes. Imperative for the production of goods and money, the slave masters instilled a fear of punishment for failing to “meet the mark.”
When possible, I look at the extremities in images to reveal the harsh truth of services rendered in a fight to stay alive. These scars, the callous covered hands and feet of those who sacrificed, require recognition, as do the emotional that still exist today.
To this day, families of those enslaved search their history through DNA tests and by using stories, oral histories, past down from generation to generation, to solve the puzzles. Although we have made great strides in bridging the gap, no amount of research can make up for lost family members and time afforded to our counterparts. The world is tough, and no one knew that better than our ancestors. We must continue to look for our lineage. If their resiliency did not exist during those “late nights and early mornings,” it is likely neither you nor I would be here today. Homage. Respect. Legacy. Pay it!
#History Before Us