Black History Month: Unlearning

Source: author’s own photo

I am participating in Black History Month using the resource provided by Rachel Cargle in her Patreon platform, The Great Unlearn.


Day 1: The Middle Passage and Port Markers Project

What is it?
The Middle Passage refers to the horrific journey enslaved people were forced to undertake, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Africa in brutal, inhuman conditions aboard ships bound for the “New World.” There are many accounts of this journey, which can only be described as terrible beyond imagination. For more than 350 years, from about 1525-1859, millions of captive peoples undertook this miserable passage.

“Though the great majority of Africans survived the crossing, more than one million died during the Middle Passage. Many men, women and children survivors stepped ashore weakened and often gravely ill. In the first three years ashore in Brazil and the Caribbean, the high death rates likely were due more to the victims’ experience on the ship and in Africa than to life in the Americas.”

The Port Markers Project was established in 2011 to

“honor the two million captive Africans who perished during the transatlantic crossing known as the Middle Passage and the ten million who survived to build the Americas.”

Why is it important?
Remembering and commemorating the sacrifice and contribution of enslaved peoples has long been overlooked in the celebration of America’s history. Just one small detail about this period in history illustrates why it is crucial to unlearn the dominant narrative of our development as a nation:

According to Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, from 1710 until 1808, eighty-one ocean crossings brought 132,267 captive African children, women, and men to Charleston. That number has been projected upward to at least 200,000. Eventually Africans in bondage and their descendants outnumbered the European-descended population.


Virtually ignored and made invisible for centuries, these individuals deserve to be honored and held in remembrance for their contribution and sacrifice. Facing this history as a nation is also an important part of understanding how racial inequity has become a foundational part of modern American society. It is just one step im making visible a history that has been marginalized for far too long.

Learn more:

The Middle Passage:

The Port Makers Project: