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VOA常速英语:1619年的回声

Source: 恒星英语学习网    2020-08-19   English BBS   Favorite  

The ship came up the Chesapeake Bay, and it landed here at Point Comfort in the latter part of August of 1619, and on this ship were 20 and odd Africans.The first Africans who were brought here were destined for a life of servitude.They had to work the plantations from sunup to sunset, the tobacco fields, the corn fields.They had to work these fields with no hope of ever being free.It makes me feel goosebumps and a sad nostalgia.I just can imagine the sailing into the bay of these chained individuals in a strange land, not knowing anything about where they were.Being taken off the vessel and told you’re going to work here, you’re going to live here.These were free people who had been kidnapped as free people and sold into slavery.Angela, interestingly, is the only African whose name was actually written in the records in 1,620, that survived.Now, there may have been other names mentioned, but those records did not survive.With Angela, we can tell the much broader story of slavery and the beginnings of slavery in our country,and racism which really went hand in hand with slavery.And at the same time, give Angela, through our imagination, some sense of identity, some sense of dignity.They did most of the work, and a number of them obviously died in the process,but we owe a debt to those Africans, because they were the foundation of the economic development, of what became the United States of America.

So, as early as 1650, Newport had a burial place where anyone,regardless of race or class or ethnicity, could be buried.By 1705, the northwest section of this burying ground, we are starting to see enslaved Africans buried there.And over the next 100 years, hundreds and hundreds of markers and hundreds and hundreds of burials are being made at that burying ground.We believe there were at least 3,000 burials during the life cycle of that burying ground.My own family is buried here,but more importantly, it's a sense of African identity.I mean, this is a place where men and women of African descent actually lived in this community and were buried here.And it gives me a direct connectivity to the history of my own community.So, one of the great ironies of Rhode Island is the fact that we are founded under religious freedom,but we soon enter and dominate the enslavement of human beings in the African slave trade.The church, particularly in Rhode Island, profited directly from the slave trade.But in a more direct way, we owned slaves. We had clergy who owned slaves.We had slaves who were owned by the missionary organizations that were creating by the Anglican churches here in the United States.Between 1705 and 1805,there are at least 900 documented slave ships that begin in Rhode Island and eventually end from West Africa,through the West Indies, and back to Rhode Island.
This is where it is, right?This is the DeWolf family cemetery.This is the funeral mound of James DeWolf.It is hard to muster much sympathy for the lack of dignity in this, for someone who engaged in slave trading and on that kind of an epic scale.James DeWolf and his extended family brought more than 12,000 enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage,and are probably responsible for about half a million people who are alive today in the Americas, descended from those who crossed the Middle Passage on their ships.They would take rum, primarily, as well as other commodities to the coast of West Africa to trade for men, women and children,who were then brought back to be sold at auction, either in the Caribbean-and primarily that was in Cuba or in the American South, in ports like Charleston, South Carolina.All of this was tremendously important in building the economy of the North and what became the United States.In the colonial era, the slave trade, and the provisioning trade to slave plantations of the West Indies, were a key part of what allowed the British colonies to prosper and eventually to rebel against Great Britain and become an independent nation.It's incumbent upon me, as someone with this kind of a family history, and knowing about this history, to speak out about what our family did, and to help other people draw the connections to the ways in which their families are connected to slavery.If we bury the dark parts of a family history,if we bury the dark parts of a national history,we will start to assume things like that didn't happen, and that will greatly distort our understanding how we got here today.There were so many captured and put on the slave ships.So many did not survive, but those that did survive, we are the healthy ones, our ancestors.It is a sacred ground for us. And so, there is no way we can pass it or walk through it without thinking of an ancestor. We exist because they worked hard.They struggled. They did whatever they had to do to survive.


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