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Captive Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade and the Making of the Americas

Captive Passage
has been made
possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Humanities
Recognition of
additional sponsors
for this exhibition
can be found by
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DepartureDeparture from AfricaWest Africa Before Slaving
Contact Between Europeans and AfricaThe Enslavement of AfricansResistance and Endurance

Resistance and Endurance

From the onset of their captivity in Africa, the black struggle for freedom began. During the brutal trek from the interior to the coast, many tried to escape and return home; others tried suicide through starvation. Those who escaped but could not return to their homelands created communities of runaways.


They [Europeans] sailed from Amsterdam to Lisbon, from Nantes and La Rochelle, from Bristol and London, from Newport and Boston on ships with strange names. They came to us on Brotherhood..., Justice..., Gift of God, ...and on the good ship Jesus. But by the time our weary lines of chained and mourning travelers saw the vessels riding on the coastal waves, there could be but one name, one meaning: captivity. Vincent Harding, There is a River: The Struggle for Freedom in America (1981)

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Middle Passage