From Slaveship to Freedom Road, Paintings by Rod Brown, 1998
They took the sick and the dead and dropped them into the sea like empty wine barrels. But wine barrels did not have beating hearts, crying eyes, and screaming mouths.
I think often of those ancestors of mine whose names I do not know, whose names I will never know, those ancestors who saw people thrown into the sea like promises casually made and broken. It was primarily the youngest and strongest who survived the Middle Passage, that three month long ocean voyage from the western shores of Africa to the so-called New World. My ancestors might have been young when the slave ship left, but when it docked, they were haunted by memories of kinsmen tossed into the sea like promises never meant to be kept, and of gulls crying like mourners. They could still hear the wind wailing at the sight of black bodies bobbing in blue water like bottles carrying notes nobody would ever read.
So many Africans were thrown into the sea, sharks swam alongside slave ships, waiting for the inevitable bodies. From approximately 1518 until 1865, ships from Great Britain, Holland, Portugal, France, and the United States brought Africans to the New World to work for no money.
Millions were taken. No one knows how many millions died.
Except the sharks.