Legacies Of 1619 [The Essay]

Episodes

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01Philip Quaque20191118

To mark the 400 years since the arrival of African slaves to America, the author and playwright Caryl Phillips reflects on the life of one individual.

In February 1766, a twenty-five year old African man, Philip Quaque, arrived back in his native Africa, with an English wife. He had been taken to England as a teenager to be educated as a Christian missionary. In England he had been ordained into the church, and married, and now the young man was to serve in a slave fort as both a missionary to his own African people, and a Chaplain to the English troops and merchants stationed on the coast. His was an impossible situation, trapped as he was between the hostility of his own people and the disdain of the English. For nearly half a century he managed to maintain a life balanced between these two opposing groups, and he recorded the anxieties visited upon him in a remarkable series of letters that he dispatched back to his employers in England.

Producer Neil McCarthy

Caryl Phillips reflects on the life of African priest Philip Quaque.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

02Isaac20191119

To mark 400 years since the arrival of African slaves to America, the author Daina Ramey Berry reflects on Isaac, who led a rebellion, and whose life ended in a final act of defiance

Reflecting on the 400-year anniversary of African arrivals in America and the legacy of slavery, Daina Ramey Berry is drawn to an enslaved man she met while researching her book The Price for their Pound of Flesh. His name is Isaac and she learned about him through a 19th century newspaper that recorded his remarkable story. He is someone she thinks of often because of his expression of soul values which enslaved people clung to and used to resist the commodification of their bodies. Daina shares Isaac’s story, his powerful statement, and legacies of slavery that reverberate today.

Producer Neil McCarthy

To mark 400 years since the arrival of African slaves in America, writers reflect.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

03Sarah Forbes Bonetta20191120

To mark 400 years since the arrival of African slaves to America, David Olusoga reflects on the life of Sarah Forbes Bonetta. As a young Dahomeyan girl called Ina, she was old into slavery and, in an extraordinary twist of fate, was gifted to Queen Victoria and became her goddaughter Sarah Forbes Bonetta.

Producer Neil McCarthy

David Olusoga reflects on the life of Sara, a princess gifted to Queen Victoria.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

04Mary Prince And Sally Hemings20191121

To mark the 400 years since the arrival of African slaves to America, Jamaican born author Anne Bailey reflects on two remarkable women pertinent to this commemoration and discusses how they have influenced her journey as a Black female historian.

Mary Prince, a West Indian slave who after enduring incredible hardships at the hands of several masters obtained her freedom and wrote an abolitionist narrative that was published in Britain. And Sally Hemings—the enigmatic enslaved mistress of Thomas Jefferson who never officially received her freedom and who never wrote her own story yet as a historical figure looms large in history and in memory.

Anne Bailey reflects on how each of them represented freedom in their own way.

Producer: Neil McCarthy

To mark the 400 years since the arrival of African slaves to America, authors reflect.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

05John Ocansey20191122

In April 1881, a young African man named John Ocansey set sail from the Gold Coast (modern day Ghana) for Liverpool in order to try and discover what had happened to goods that his father had dispatched to a Liverpudlian agent. The Africans had not received the two and a half thousand pounds they were owed in exchange for the goods, and rather than sit at home and accept the fact that they had most likely been swindled, young John Ocansey had decided to journey to the world-famous port of Liverpool and claim the money that rightfully belonged to his father. Trading between Africa and Liverpool had been established for over two centuries, and was based on the slave trade in which it was understood that Africans had no rights. Even after the abolition of the trade such attitudes persisted, but Ocansey was determined that he would not be treated as a slave.

Producer Neil McCarthy

Caryl Phillips reflects on young African John Ocansey exercising his freedom in Liverpool.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.