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Book Displays: Equal Justice Initiative 2021: Apr

Virtual displays based on the 2021 A History of Racial Injustice calendar.

April's Topic - Transatlantic Slave Trade

Head sculptures by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo of enslaved African women, men, and children

Calendar photo caption: The Transatlantic Slave Trade exhibit at the EJI Legacy Pavilion features sculptures by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo in remembrance of more than 12 million African men, women, and children who were kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Americas. (Bryan G. Stevenson)

Calendar Text

In the mid-15th century, European countries began to kidnap people from Africa, traffic them across the Atlantic Ocean, and sell them to enslavers in North, South, and Central America. An estimated 12.7 million African women, men, and children were trafficked and an estimated two million died during the agonizing journey.

This abduction of millions has left a legacy of horrific abuse, enslavement, and traumatizing violence against African people and their descendants in the Americas. In July 1803, the British ship Margaret departed on one of the 36,000 documented slave trading voyages between 1514 and 1866. After kidnapping 222 Africans from the Congo, the traders reached New Orleans on July 14, 1804. The 200 Africans who survived the journey were then humiliated and sold into enslavement.

New Orleans and many other communities along the eastern and southern coasts of North America, from Maine to New Jersey to Florida to Texas, were major ports of entry for ships like the Margaret, but many of these cities have done little to acknowledge or reckon with this history.

Congress banned the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1808, but the last known ship carrying enslaved Africans, the Clotilda, arrived in Mobile, Alabama, in 1860, months before the start of the Civil War. Researchers recently published information about a Yoruba woman named Àbáké, later known as Matilda McCrear, who was captured and forced into slavery in the Kingdom of Dahomey at age 2 and trafficked to Alabama on the Clotilda. The last known survivor of the Transatlantic Slave Trade was 83 when she died in 1940 in Selma, Alabama.