The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

Book - 2018 | First edition
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In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. In 1931, Hurston returned to Plateau, the African-centric community three miles from Mobile founded by Cudjo and other former slaves from his ship. Spending more than three months there, she talked in depth with Cudjo about the details of his life. During those weeks, the young writer and the elderly formerly enslaved man ate peaches and watermelon that grew in the backyard and talked about Cudjo’s past—memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilda, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
Publisher: New York : Amistad, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780062748201
Branch Call Number: 303.362092 LewH
Characteristics: xxviii, 171 pages : illustrations
Additional Contributors: Plant, Deborah G. 1956-


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Sep 20, 2018

"All these words from the seller, but not one word from the sold."
Remarkable document that was written in 1931 but only recently published. Zora Neale Hurston, best known for her novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God," went to Alabama to interview Cudjo Lewis, who had been abducted from his home in Africa and sold into slavery. He has a remarkable memory and Hurston presents his account, giving voice to the the millions who were silenced. Presented as a scholarly work, there are notes, appendixes, and introduction, and a forward by Alice Walker, all of which help give it context. A major rediscovery.

Aug 11, 2018

Although brief, the interview with Cudjo Lewis on his life in Africa, capture, passage across the Atlantic, bondage, and later freedom is priceless. The interview allows the persona of Cudjo Lewis to come forth. The introduction held lesser value for me. But the appendix with assorted stories related by Cudjo Lewis was welcome.

JCLJessecaB Jun 13, 2018

"Barracoon" is the result of a collection of interviews with Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade, as interviewed by Zora Neale Hurston (best known for "Their Eyes Were Watching God.") Lewis' memories of his home country, enslavement, and life after slavery are fascinating and oftentimes heart-wrenching to read. I appreciated learning more about the slave trade from a slave's perspective, as well as learning what his family's life was like after eventually being freed (even though slavery had been outlawed in the US for about 50 years). "Barracoon" also provides a wonderful introduction by Alice Walker, as well as many notes and appendices for historical information.

Jun 05, 2018


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