Drawing the Color Line by Howard Zinn

Meeting the first slave ship

Image by Linda De Volder via Flickr

by Howard Zinn
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Originally published March 21, 2011
November 21, 2019

Chapter 2 from A People’s History of the United States.

A black American writer, J. Saunders Redding, describes the arrival of a ship in North America in the year 1619:

Sails furled, flag drooping at her rounded stern, she rode the tide in from the sea. She was a strange ship, indeed, by all accounts, a frightening ship, a ship of mystery. Whether she was trader, privateer, or man-of-war no one knows. Through her bulwarks black-mouthed cannon yawned. The flag she flew was Dutch; her crew a motley. Her port of call, an English settlement, Jamestown, in the colony of Virginia. She came, she traded, and shortly afterwards was gone. Probably no ship in modern history has carried a more portentous freight. Her cargo? Twenty slaves.

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