Opera News

Opera News App

Meet The Last Slave Ship Survivor That Gave an Interview in the 1930s

UtomobongFrydey
By UtomobongFrydey | self meida writer
Published 19 days ago - 2480 views

Zora Neale Hurston, an anthropologist, discovered the last living captive on the last slave ship to transport Africans to the United States, some 60 years after slavery was abolished. Hurston, a well-known Harlem Renaissance figure who later wrote the novel Their Eyes Were Watching Heaven, conducted survivor interviews but was unable to publish them as a book in the early 1930s. In fact, they were only released to the general public in Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Freight," which was published on May 8, 2018.

Author Zora Neale Hurston (1903-1960).

Cudjo Lewis was born in what is now Benin, a West African republic, and the story of his life is told in Hurston's novel. He was just 19 years old when he was kidnapped and taken to the coast by members of the nearby Dahomian tribe. His original name was Kossula. He was sold into slavery there, along with about 120 other people, and loaded onto the Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach the continental United States. The Clotilda took its captives to Alabama in 1860, just a year before the Civil War broke out. Even though slavery was legal in the US at the time, the international slave trade was not, and had not been for over 50 years. The United States, along with many other European countries, had banned the practice in 1807, but Lewis' journey shows how slave traders used the law to continue transporting human cargo.

To escape capture, Lewis and the other survivors were snuck into Alabama at night and forced to hide in a swamp for several days. To hide the evidence of their crime, they set fire to an 86-foot sailboat on the banks of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta (its remains may have been discovered in January 2018). Lewis' story is particularly moving because it provides a firsthand account of the perplexing agony of slavery. After being abducted from his house, Lewis was forced into a ship with strangers. The abductees spent several months together on the perilous journey to the United States, but were then split up in Alabama and sent to different plantations.

A plaque honoring Cudjo Lewis, the last remaining survivor of the Atlantic slave trade between Africa and the United States, can be found in Mobile, Alabama. "We're very sorry to be separated from one another," Lewis said to Hurston. For seventy days, we've been crossing the water from de Africa land, and now we're a part of one another. We'll yell before we scream. We can't bear our sorrow because it has such a heavy appearance. Maybe I die in my sleep when I dream of my mother. Lewis also describes how it felt to arrive on a plantation where no one spoke his language and couldn't tell him where he was or what was going on. "We donan know why we are taking 'away from our country to work lak dis," he told Hurston. " Everyone is staring at us strangely. We'd like to talk about big udder colored people, but Dey Doan is aware of our plans. Lewis admitted that he was unaware of the Civil War when it first broke out. However, he discovered around halfway through that the North had launched a war to free enslaved people like him. Lewis claims that a group of Union soldiers stopped by a boat on which he and other enslaved people served a few days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865 and told them they were free.

Cudjo Lewis at home.

The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama, Erik Overbey Collection

Lewis was furious when he discovered that the offer of "forty acres and a mule" or any other kind of compensation did not come with emancipation. He and a group of 31 other free people saved money to buy land near Mobile, which they called Africatown, after the government failed to provide him with land to live on after stealing him away from his homeland. Hurston's use of vernacular dialogue in both her novels and anthropological interviews was often controversial, as some black American intellectuals at the time argued that it played on white people's stereotypes of black people. Hurston disagreed and refused to alter Lewis' dialect, which was one of the reasons why her book was rejected by a publisher in the 1930s. Several decades later, her principled stance means that new readers would be able to hear Lewis' story as he told it.

Thanks for reading this little piece, Was this article informative and useful to you?

Please Share this unique article across all social media platforms and please don't forget to maintain social distance, wear your face masks, wash your hands regularly with sanitizer for prevention is better than cure.

Content created and supplied by: UtomobongFrydey (via Opera News )

Opera News is a free to use platform and the views and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not represent, reflect or express the views of Opera News. Any/all written content and images displayed are provided by the blogger/author, appear herein as submitted by the blogger/author and are unedited by Opera News. Opera News does not consent to nor does it condone the posting of any content that violates the rights (including the copyrights) of any third party, nor content that may malign, inter alia, any religion, ethnic group, organization, gender, company, or individual. Opera News furthermore does not condone the use of our platform for the purposes encouraging/endorsing hate speech, violation of human rights and/or utterances of a defamatory nature. If the content contained herein violates any of your rights, including those of copyright, and/or violates any the above mentioned factors, you are requested to immediately notify us using via the following email address operanews-external(at)opera.com and/or report the article using the available reporting functionality built into our Platform

YOU MAY LIKE

(Fiction) It's My Birthday Today.

2 minutes ago

0 🔥

(Fiction) It's My Birthday Today.

Nigerian Pastor That Carried Coffin During Protest, See What He Said

11 minutes ago

6 🔥

Nigerian Pastor That Carried Coffin During Protest, See What He Said

9 Throwback And Recent Pictures Of Ada Jesus And Things To Learn From Her Mistakes

13 minutes ago

51 🔥

9 Throwback And Recent Pictures Of Ada Jesus And Things To Learn From Her Mistakes

Officer Who Assaulted Army Officer Has Been Fired

16 minutes ago

31 🔥

Officer Who Assaulted Army Officer Has Been Fired

Opinion: Jesse Lingard reminds us of a former West Ham star

16 minutes ago

5 🔥

Opinion: Jesse Lingard reminds us of a former West Ham star

Redknapp On Jose Mourinho, "They Are Not Playing Great Football And They Are Losing Matches"

17 minutes ago

85 🔥

Redknapp On Jose Mourinho,

8 Crazy Family Photos You Would Be Surprised To See

24 minutes ago

1 🔥

8 Crazy Family Photos You Would Be Surprised To See

'They didn't include the noise from the spot next door' -Dorathy

28 minutes ago

46 🔥

'They didn't include the noise from the spot next door' -Dorathy

A Passionate Story Of How Linda Ikeji Failed Many Times In Business And Lessons To Learn

28 minutes ago

8 🔥

A Passionate Story Of How Linda Ikeji Failed Many Times In Business And Lessons To Learn

Wierd - Town Where Sabbath Is On A Tuesday

29 minutes ago

0 🔥

Wierd - Town Where Sabbath Is On A Tuesday

COMMENTS