Thursday, November 28, 2013

Horror of Slavery Turns Art into Protest

This image is part of a weekly series that The Root is presenting in conjunction with the Image of the Black in Western Art Archive at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute, part of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research.

This scene of heart-wrenching separation occurs on a narrow beach along the West African coast. The lurid drama unfolds as the sky and surrounding mountains emerge in the early morning light. Two large sailing ships lie anchored in the left foreground, still bathed in the glow of the rose-colored dawn. On the left, two white sailors restrain a black African man who wrings his hands in despair. A sailor in the bow of the small rowboat behind this group watches half-interestedly as the drama unfolds. Already in the boat are two slaves being readied for transport.

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