The Atlantic Slave Trade

Understanding the Atlantic Slave Trade

A Facebook friend shared this TedEd video this morning. It’s clarity and frankness impressed me. This video (about five minutes long) is a great resource for classroom teachers and homeschoolers alike. If you teach History in middle school or above, add this to your lessons. This is the perfect addition to inadequate textbooks.

The Atlantic Slave Trade brought enslaved Africans to North America. One of the things folks excusing human trafficking say is, “Africans sold their own into slavery.” Yes, this is true. So, this presentation explains European involvement in the trade. African rulers sold their enemies from rival areas and tribes to the Europeans. In addition rulers profited from enslavement. It was an easy solution for refugees and prisoners of war.

New Orleans and Human Trafficking

New Orleans became a major port of entry for enslaved Africans. It wasn’t a direct part of the Atlantic Slave Trade, though. Africans died in large numbers in transit. Therefore, traffickers ran from West Africa to North America as quickly as possible. They unloaded the survivors of the passages in cities on the Atlantic coast. Additionally, they traveled to the Caribbean, Saint-Domingue or Havana. New Orleans connected the Islands to the US. As the plantation economy grew in the Deep South, slave owners in the islands moved their property to the mainland. Even though the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807, the practice continued for decades. The port of New Orleans moved many of the enslaved into the country.

Museums and Memorials

atlantic slave trade

USS Constellation, anchored in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (courtesy Flickr user sherseydc)

This video presents the background for the concept of a “slave ship museum.” In Baltimore, the USS Constellation museum recognizes the ship’s past as a slaver. So, the impact of human trafficking isn’t the main focus. Is New Orleans the right place for such a museum? Check out the video and share your thoughts.