On a recent trip to Charleston, we had a chance to visit The Old Slave Mart Museum. This was a treat in itself, because Charleston, whose fortunes were built on slavery, seems to rarely deal with what slavery has meant to the culture and the day to day life of the city. What I realized by going to the museum is that we really do not know that much about slavery (when I say we, I mean the generally educated populace). What I found out in this really small museum is that slaves had a history of rebelling and of running away in much greater numbers than ever thought. For example, there were more than 250 slave rebellions in the 1700s alone. Before the Civil War upwards of 50,000 slaves each year ran away– each year! There were also systems of classifying slaves that determined how much they sold for. One classification in particular, ‘the second rate or ordinary girls,” stood out to me. What did it mean for you if you were sold as a second rate slave?
I am not sure what all this means, but I feel like it is something that I should write about. I guess you will have to stay tuned for this. Please check out the New York Times article in the link above and make sure to visit some of those places if you are ever in Charleston. Also do yourself a favor and take Alphonso Brown’s Gullah Tour. You won’t be sorry.