About Me

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Delta, British Columbia, Canada
I took very early retirement from teaching in '06 and did some traveling in Europe and the UK before settling down to do some private tutoring. As a voracious reader, I have many books waiting in line for me to read. Tell me I shouldn't read something, and I will. I'm a happy, optimistic person and I love to travel and through that believe that life can be a continuous learning experience. I'm looking forward to traveling more some day. I enjoy walking, cycling, water aerobics & and sports like tennis, volleyball, and fastpitch/baseball. I'm just getting into photography as a hobby and I'm enjoying learning all the bits and bobs of my digital camera. My family is everything to me and I'm delighted to be the mother of two girls and the Gramma of a boy and a girl. I may be a Gramma, but I'm at heart just a girl who wants to have fun.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

S is for SLAVERY MUSEUM

This week I would like to tell you about the Slavery Museum in Liverpool, UK.  I visited it in 2012 when I went to the Merseyside Maritime Museum on Albert Dock near the hotel where I was staying.  I had no idea this museum was in the same building, but when I had finished looking at everything from models of the Lusitania and other famous ships, including WW2 submarines and life under the sea, to artifacts from the Titanic, I discovered the International Slavery Museum.  That is what I remember most about that day!

A bit of background first, though, about what caused me to recall that particular day when I saw with my own two eyes real photographs and exhibits of how slaves were:  1) captured 2) transported 3)habituated 4) chained 5) witness statements 6) statements by people like Desmond Tutu, Gloria Steinem and Frederick Douglass 8) quotes from old spirituals - and more.  A few years ago, I read the novel "The Book of Negroes" by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie based on this novel for the second time.  Also, currently showing on TV is Canadian author Margaret Atwood's book "The Handmaid's Tale" that shows how, in the future, women become even more enslaved as a reaction to the women's liberation movement. 

So, my own memories of a memorial to all who had been enslaved in the past and two novels based on the reality and the possible recurrence of such a situation in the future made me think it might be time to bring it to light in this forum.  Slavery of any human being is absolutely repugnant to me and it shames me to think that my ancestors (British) "could" have been involved in it by trapping men, women, and children from the west coast of Africa and transporting them in such hideous conditions to work for the white people in America.
There were some gruesome sights in the Slavery Museum, like a Ku Klux Klan outfit and a statue of a man being hung.
There was also a diagram of how the slaves were packed into the cargo hold of ships to maximize the number of bodies that could be delivered to wealthy landowners.  Can you imagine the inhumanity of forcing a person to be chained in one position for the duration of the trip!  They ended up lying in their body wastes which caused illness and death.
Some potential "slaves" had enough courage to fight the hunters both in Africa and in America and would happily die rather than become a slave.
But some didn't manage to escape and ended up the "property" of landowners.  They still weren't safe, though, because at any time and at any whim of their "owner" they could be sold or killed.
 If they made it alive to America, they were purchased like an animal and forced to work in the fields under sorely difficult situations.  Below is a photo of a model of how they lived far off from the landowner's home - in huts and under the blazing sun.
One extraordinary sculpture in the museum was of chains - chains - and more chains!  I took a couple of photos and this is a close-up of part of it.  The chains were so entwined, it would be impossible to untangle them.  This was the plight of the slaves!
As I was reading the inscriptions on a wall the other side of another statue, I happened to look behind me and this is what I noticed.
See the look on this man's face?  Is he remembering stories from his ancestors about how they came to live in England?  Or is he an American stunned at how his family ended up as slaves?  Is he praying and thanking God for a man like Martin Luther King, who died fighting white America for equal rights for all people no matter what race, creed or other religion?  What would you think and feel if it were reversed?  What if men from Africa or Asia came with ships, rounded up all the white Europeans and took them back to their countries as slaves?  The whole thing sickens me!

I truly don't believe my ancestors had anything to do with slavery because the first ones to immigrate were co-owners of the Mayflower.  They settled in what was then Nova Scotia in the 1600s and ended up in the 1920s travelling west to resettle in Vancouver.  I do hope, though, that they may have been "shepherds" as part of the "Underground Railroad" that helped slaves escape across the border to what they considered to be the "Promised Land." 
My other ancestors didn't come to Canada until the 1800s to work on the railway and ended up in western Canada or travelled south to the United States.  No matter that, though, because slavery is still in existence today.
This brings me back to Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale" where she looks into the future to find women - only women - subjugated by men.  I won't tell you what happens in the story, but the last chapter (and I'm not betraying anything here with this) takes place in June of 2195 - more than 200 years after Atwood began writing it.  Will human beings ever learn???

I know this has been a heavy subject this week, so if you've read all of this and need to take a break to mull the topic over or even do a bit of research on your own, please let me know that you hope to come back and leave a message about your feelings.  Any time!  After all, it's taken me 5 years to get around to writing about the Slavery Museum.

13 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

An important topic, albeit difficult!

Liz Hinds said...

It is sickening and unbelievable that people, like you and me, could have thought so lightly of human life. And even worse that it still goes on.

Melody Steenkamp said...

Very interesting and intriguing ...about a very dark side of mankinds historie... and as it seems, many people have learned nothing from it.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful post and photos of a very difficult topic ~ no humans should be enslaved ~ whoever thought that is not human to me ~

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Gattina said...

I have read so many books about slavery that I was unable to visit thé museum not to spoil my holidays when wé stopped in Liverpool for 2 days ! When I had been in the States several times I have met people who didn't know at all why there were black Américans !

Photo Cache said...

A difficult post to read personally.

My ABC WEDNESDAY

Hildred said...

A very thoughtful post, Leslie, and one that causes great regret and shame.

photowannabe said...

Not a proud chapter in the history of man.
I have never understood it...man's inhumanity to man...
Powerful post Leslie.

zongrik said...

the closest thing i had seen to this would be Jefferson's Monticello

Joy said...

Horrific and depressing to think that it still exists in other forms today. You make it a powerful read.
How interesting you mentioned the Handmaid's Tale for I just read in the paper this very day that one of our channel's it going to show it later in the year.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

right now, there is a blog about a Filipino growing up in USA who had a slave. Back in the early 1900s, my grandmother had a slave.

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

I just posted Grandma's slave I have been writing this book to Facebook. I wrote it in my book. Very shocking in today's world.

Trubes said...

Hi Leslie,
So sorry I'm late in commenting but as you probably know, I've been having
difficulties with my blog site which somehow has disallowed me from commenting
on others blogs and replying to comments on my 'Trubes' blog...most irksome !
However, I've managed to use Internet Explorer via Google Crome.
I love this post about Slavery, most interesting and beautifully written.
We have been to the Slavery Museum and I found it both amazing and heart wrenching.
How people can be so cruel to their fellow man thank the Lord for all those who
fought to abolish this cruel trade.
Sadly, a lot of the wealth in Liverpool derived from Slavery and there are many splendid
houses dotted around the city and in the suburbs that were built by those who profited
from such evil practice, That is another proliferate avenue to explore.
The black community in Liverpool was founded by the African slaves jumping ship or
escaping from their captors before they were shipped off to the plantation masters
in America.
There is so much more to research and write about that period in history, whilst it is
macabre it is also absolutely riveting.
I have read Margaret Attwood's 'Hand Maiden's tale, many years ago, I shall dig it out and read it again, I sort of remember the story line in part... but not all of it.
Great writing again Leslie,
Love Di.
Abcw team.