Sunday, 9 November 2014

My Thoughts on the International Slavery Museum.

Last week concluded Integrated Theatre History and Shakespeare in Performance. While I am sad to no longer experience these courses, the next two courses coming up sound interesting. For the month of November, Slave Narratives will be new course.

On Friday, we took an overnight class trip to Liverpool. The main reason for going on this overnight trip was to attend the International Slavery Museum as an introduction for Anglo-American Slave Narratives.

I am going to be honest – I did not have high expectations for this museum. I think slavery was a horrible time, and I do not agree with any of it, but I also was not sure how I would feel about looking at an exhibit all about it either. However, I got more out of this museum than I expected. I left with a better knowledge of what happened, and how slavery all began.

I walked into the Slavery Museum, thinking that there would be lots of repetition going on throughout the exhibit. The only knowledge that I had of slavery was the events that took place within the United States. I did not know that England was the start of it all. I thought that was interesting because the British were the ones who sent the ships out to fetch the slaves from Africa, and send them along the Middle Passage. In this museum, there were videos playing of historians talking about slavery and everything that went on during that time. It was really interesting to see and read about how ships departed from Liverpool and traveled to Africa to ship slaves off to the Americas.

A lot of things in this Slavery Museum stood out to me. One thing, in particular, was seeing the shackles that had been chained around the slaves’ wrists and ankles. It made me feel horrible inside because not only were there adult-sized chains, but there were smaller ones – the size for children. Slavery is horrible, and no human being ought to be put through such atrocious conditions, but to put children through such a time makes me sick to my stomach. It’s appalling learning about how those who could own property were able to own slaves. No person ought to be owned by anyone.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to take many pictures while at the Slavery Museum, but I wasn’t sure if photography was allowed. If I went back, I would have captured some of the things that I thought were interesting and really stood out to me. Another thing that really stood out to me was a video that was playing repeatedly in the museum. It was a clip of the slaves on the ships during their transport on the Middle Passage. I stood watching the clip for a good three minutes, and it made me feel for the slaves back then. I can only imagine the pain and suffering that these slaves went through – just watching the clip made me feel horrible. Slavery was a tragedy in itself, and the idea of a person as property is wrong. As I watched the clip of the slaves in transport, I felt myself being punched in the gut because thought it wasn’t me who put those slaves on a ship and sailed off to the Americas, I feel the guilt of putting the innocent Africans to work until death.

Something else that I found quite intriguing from this museum was there was a window that you could look out. This sounds weird, but the view from this window was where the ships would dock and depart to Africa to trade goods for people. I found this to be interesting because it isn’t every day that I get to look out and see the location of where the ships that transported slaves to the Americas. It was a repulsive time to live in, especially for Africans who were being traded into working until death. Looking out this window, I could only imagine being back in time when slavery still existed and watching ships depart from the dock with trade goods to Africa.

As I made my through the Slavery Museum, I noticed that it began to focus a lot on African culture. It started off with culture from when Africans were slaves and progressed to today’s society.

There was one picture that I took, and it was off a piece of artwork with the faces of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama enlarged in front of the American flag with the caption, “We the people… Have a dream”. I took this picture because I thought it represented equality – in the United States, but everywhere really – in all people. I particularly liked that this picture captured two very well known African American political figures. I think that it was vital that this be included in this Slavery Museum because both of these to political figures have done powerful deeds to the United States.

"We the People... Have A Dream!" 
After visiting the International Slavery Museum, I have a better knowledge for how slavery started, and just how bad it really was for the slaves. This has helped me prepare for what is to come the next few weeks of November.

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