African-American History ~ From Africa to America


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  • (copyleft 2007) Chad David Cover.Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 1.0 Generic. See
  • African-American History ~ From Africa to America

    1. 1. From Africa to America
    2. 2. African-American Historiography 1619 – 1808: Slave Trade 1808 – mid-1800s: Africa as “Dark Continent” 1820s-1880s: Ethiopianism 1880s-1920s: Black Nationalism A. New Negro Movement / Harlem Renaissance B. Diasporal Studies C. European “Discovery” of African Artwork 1920s-1990s: Rise of “African-American History” A. Rise of professional African-American History B. Exploration of African past & integration with African-American History 1. Discovery of Ancient African Kingdoms (Ghana, Mali & Songhay) 2. Research on the dynamics of the slave trade 3. Exploration of African/African-American contribution to American society & culture 4. Integration of African-American History into the larger “American” historical narrative.
    3. 3. Ancient African Empires
    4. 4. Transatlantic Slave Trade Maafa: Kiswahili word meaning “disaster,” It was introduced by activists in the 1990s to denote the Holocaust of the slave trade, enslavement & colonization of Africans. The trade began in the late 1400s with the Portuguese exploration of the West African coast. Spanish shipped first known “cargo” of African slaves in 1502. From 1502 – 1867 • ~ 10 million Africans survived the transatlantic slave trade • 27,000 slaving expeditions • Roughly 74 ships per year • Average of one ship every five days for 365 years • 2.2 million people transported prior to 1700. • ~ 8 million people transported between 1700 & 1810. About 80% of the total. • Peaked in the 1780s, when 80,000 slaves a year were shipped across the Atlantic.
    5. 5. The “First Passage” Capture in Africa & the march to the sea. 1. As a result of targeted raids by well-organized kingdoms upon people who lacked well-armed rulers & armies of their own. 2. Sometimes an incidental trade. But as Europeans moved onto the coast & built forts, the trade expanded & became an organized affair. A, At first, the Europeans raided, but this proved too dangerous—both disease & geographical disadvantage made it too costly. B. Europeans traders sought out African middlemen, tribes that were expanding in power & began to specialize in slave-hunting: like the Mandingo, the Imbangala or the Ashanti. 1. 3. Domestic slavery existed in West Africa. Captors preferred to keep female slaves, so 2/3 of those transported were men. 2. Slaves were captured in from four major regions: A. Upper Guinea (Senegambia/Sierre Leone) B. Lower Guinea (Gold Coast / Bight of Benin C. Bight of Biafra D. Kongo-Angola Region
    6. 6. SourcesoftheSlaveTrade
    7. 7. Marching to the Sea
    8. 8. Arrival at the Coast
    9. 9. Preparation for Embarkation
    10. 10. Transport to the Ship
    11. 11. The “Middle Passage” The transit from Africa to the Americas. Took at least a month, sometimes several. Time of passage varied by season, conditions & distance. Even a quick passage could be horrendous. Horrid conditions on board the slave ships: 1. 6 to 7 square feet per passenger 2. “Decks swam in urine, feces, vomit, and menstrual & fecal blood.” 3. Severe overcrowding exacerbated communicable diseases like dysentery, typhoid, measles, small pox, yellow fever & malaria. 4. Undernourishment & dehydration. 5. Brutality by the ship’s crew. 6. Sexual assault of the women by the ship’s crew. 7. Suicide not uncommon (Depression, shock & insanity common.) 8. Some mutinies 9. Mortality rate routinely 15-20%. (50% in the earlier years, 5% in the late 18th century. Portuguese ships had a lower mortality rate; English had the highest.
    12. 12. Aboard the Ships
    13. 13. Horrors of Passage ~ Conditions
    14. 14. Horrors of Passage ~ Disease
    15. 15. Horrors of Passage ~ Abuse
    16. 16. Brazil 40% British Caribbean 24% Spanish America 16% French Caribbean 13% British North America 6% N=550,000 Dutch Caribbean <1% N=50,000 Danish Caribbean <1% N=50,000 Destination of African Slaves
    17. 17. “Third Passage” Sale in the New World. “Cleaned up” & Presented For Sale. 1. Sold in large slave markets, slave pens, in public places. In both large lots & small. 2. Transported to final destination 3. Often separated from loved ones or friends found on-board. 4. Most slaves—upwards of 95%—went to the Caribbean & to Brazil, to work on great sugar plantations. Most of these workers were literally worked to death, and new “imports” brought in to take their place. 5. Only around 5% of enslaved Africans ended up in British North America. Several reasons for this: A. Until the late 17th-century, there was no staple crop there. B. New England was settled largely by family units who brought subsistence agriculture with them, so plantation slavery was isolated to the Middle States & to the South once staple crops were developed. C. Sugar plantation owners could afford to pay more for the most “likely looking” slaves. Also, they tended to buy young men of working age, and to pass up women & children. So North American got a larger share of these groups. Period of “Seasoning” 1. Forced to adopt to new environment & the new labor regime of plantation labor. 2. A sizable portion died of disease, overwork & poor living conditions within a couple years—particularly on the sugar plantations of Brazil & the Caribbean.
    18. 18. Preparation for Sale
    19. 19. Slaves for Sale
    20. 20. Slave Auctions