Subordinate Groups

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Subordinate Group

I arrived here in America in the early 1800’s from Nigeria, Africa; through what was referred to as the Middle Passage: the name Africans gave to the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to New World enslavement. I was taken from my homeland against my will. I belonged to the tribe of Yoruba which made up about 24% of the slave population here in America. Enslaved Africans represented many different peoples, each with distinct cultures, religions, and languages. Most originated from the coast or the interior of West Africa, between present-day Senegal and Angola. Other enslaved peoples originally came from Madagascar and Tanzania in East Africa. (Nile of the New World)On the ship ride over we were loaded in the lower part of the ship chained to one another. There were so many of us packed in one area that there was hardly any room to spare like animals. When it was time to eat we were fed as though we were dogs they threw the food down to us and the strongest were the only one who ate. I remember the horrible odor that came from those who had defecated on the long trip over. Many on the trip became ill and some even died because of disease but it didn’t matter, they were just unshackled and thrown overboard. The day the long trip was finally over I can remember we were removed from the ship and looked over meticulously from head to toe as though we were some animal being checked for any type defect to be later taken to the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder. I can remember wondering “where am I and what is this strange language I hear?” not realizing that I would one day be beaten for using my native tongue.

To meet the growing demands of sugar and cotton, slaveholders developed an active domestic slave trade to move surplus workers to the Deep South. New Orleans, Louisiana, became the largest slave mart, followed by Richmond, Virginia; Natchez, Mississippi; and Charleston, South Carolina. Between 1820 and 1860 more than 60...
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