An Overview of Black History

Compiled & Edited by Phillip True, Jr.

19. Africans Away From Home

by Dr. John Henrik Clarke

Africans who were brought against their will across the Atlantic never fully adjusted to slavery or accepted it as inevitable. Instead, they pursued liberty under trying and seemingly impossible conditions, and their search continued throughout the entire period of their enslavement.

The real fight for liberty by these Africans started on the shores of Africa and in the slave holding forts along the West African coast. As many Africans were forced onto slave ships, some of them picked up dirt and forced it into their mouths. They were determined to take some of their homeland with them as they went into forced exile.

This pursuit of liberty and lost nationhood continued in the form of revolts on slave ships. During exercise periods, when Africans were brought on deck for air, many of them jumped overboard. The masters of the slave ships also discovered that some of the slaves had committed suicide. While some Africans were killed when they attempted to assault those who enslaved them on the ships.

This spirit of revolt was nurtured throughout slavery and took many forms wherever slaves were found, whether in South America, in the Caribbean, or in the United States.

NOTE TO THE READER: "Africans Away From Home" was written by Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Professor Emeritus of hunter College, New York, NY. It is used by permission.

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