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Our roots in slavery

Chapter 2




Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy!


As far as your eye can see,


men, women, and baby slaves


coming to the land of Liberty,


where life's design is already made.

So young and so strong

they're just waiting to be saved...


Lord, I'm so tired
and I know you're tired too,


look over the horizon,


see the sun shining down on you...


Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy! Ship Ahoy!


Can't you feel the motion of the ocean,


can't you feel the cold wind blowing by?


There's so many fish in the sea,


we're just, we're just, we're just riding on the waves...
the waves... the waves...


Naturally I was not around to photograph these historical slave pictures, so here is where my own American journey starts. I had thought that slavery was far back in history, but when I hitchhiked around Florida I met Charles Smith who claimed to be 134 years old. He remembered vividly the good life before he was enslaved and told me about it on my tape recorder.


Charles Smith:  I came to the United States when I was only 12 years old.
Jacob Holdt:  Were you sold as a slave to the States?


- Yeah, let me tell you now. When I came to the USA, people were sold. That was in slavery time. They brought me from Africa.


White people came over there getting folks. I had never seen a white person in Africa.


I asked my mama, could I go down to the boat and see that man. She said yeah, and I ain't seen my mama since. And I wasn't but 12 years old.


People got on the boat to see "sugar trees". Men, women and children... "Come on down here in the hatch holes!" Surely they wanted to show us something down there.


The boat was moving, but we thought it was just rocking...due to the wind. He never did bring us back...


The colored people wanted to throw me off. "Throw him overboard!" 
Legree, the chapman on the boat didn't want me thrown off.


We got into the United States. People were sold there in New Orleans.
The highest bidder would get you.

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