Every time the issue of the slave trade or slavery comes up people become shy or simply shrink into their shells. No matter how much we try to run from it, from time to time it will rise and we must deal with it squarely.
This is exactly what happened in 1976 when Alex Haley released his award-winning book, “Roots” which was adapted for the screen a year later and premiered with record-breaking ratings. As much as we try to shy away from discussing slavery and the damage it caused the black man, it still finds its way to swim to the top and catch public attention.
In most recent times, the 2020 US Election Campaign trail has caught the fire. It is evident that liberal candidates know they must rise to defend their stand on reparations for the descendants of the American chattel slavery else they do not stand a chance to gain black votes. The issue also took the international center stage at the 72nd plenary meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres in his opening speech at the commemoration of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic trade referred to slavery as one of the most appalling displays of human brutality. Every year the UN commemorates the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade era.
It is recorded that the first set of slaves to touch down on American soil were 20 in number and they landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, that is 400 years ago. This opened the doors for another 246 years of slavery and the molestation of slaves. The list of abominations is endless as girls and women were raped, able-bodied men were exploited on farms in the worst conditions, etc.
In 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation to abolish the slave trade in the 50 States of the US. The question however remains, did slavery ever end? In her New York Times bestseller “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander concludes that slave trade never really ended. It only metamorphosed into the incarceration of black men, more black men than were enslaved in 1850 or imprisoned at the peak of the South African Apartheid.
In rounding up his speech, Guterres admonished world leaders to bring an end to social and political discrimination, fight xenophobia, and combat racism as much as they could. He said this was necessary to uphold dignity for all of mankind.