tv Slave Wrecks Project interview CSPAN September 5, 2016 9:10pm-10:01pm EDT
live from hofstra university in hempstead, new york. then on tuesday, november 4th, vice presidential candidates debate at longwood university in farmville, virginia. on sunday, october 9th, washington university in st. louis hosts the second presidential debate. leading up to the third and final debate between hillary clinton and donald trump. taking place at the university of nevada, las vegas, on october 19th. live coverage of the presidential and vice presidential debates on c-span. listen live on the free c-span radio app. or watch live or any time on demand at c-span.org. >> archaeological excavation of a slave ship that wrecked off the south african coast in 1794 is adding a new chapter to the trans-atlantic slave trade story. the smithsonian's national museum of african-american history and culture is a global partner in the ship's recovery, discovery, and exhibition.
museum director lonnie bunch and curator paul talked with american history tv about the saga of the ship called sal jose. >> a ship that was heading from mozambique island in mozambique around the cape of good hope heading towards brazil, northeast brazil. came close to capetown, south africa. capetown was often a landing point for ships before they made their way across the long atlantic voyage, and this shape came too close to shore and got caught in swells in a storm and struck rocks about 100 yards,
350 feet or so from shore. the captain whose last name was -- tried to salvage what he could from the crew. they attempted a rescue from ship to shore. he rescued himself. he rescued along with the crew. he rescued about half of the 400 enslaved mozambiquans aboard. the other half have been captured from the interior of africa and brought on board the --
>> the slave trade. >> in many ways history museums tend to tell the grand story, and often forget to humanize them. our goal was to say how do we humanize the sleigh trade when you are focussing on a single ship, letting people understand what happened on that ship, letting people understand who some of the people were on the ship, and most importantly, letting people realize that it's not about the millions. it's about in this case the 412. >> of the slaves who survived, what wanted to them after the wreck, after they came ashore? >> well, after the wreck two days later the ship captain had
to testify in court, dutch court at that time, and testified to the loss of property. the others were sold back into slavery in the western cape, and there they lived out their lives and what remained of them. their loss to us right now, but our researchers continue to see if we can see ascendant communities for some of those people. >> do we know the names of any of those slooifz that sur vooifds wreck or died? >> with he don't know the names of anyone, but we're very lucky to bring those -- to bring their spirits in some ways back into memory, back into history so we can begin to reclaim them. >> it's the right between moments of sadness and moments of resillance.
a >> obviously the story of sleigh ry is the a story of loss of power, loss of life. on the other hand, it's also a story of the resill yancy of people to survive. one of the things that strikes me is that often people, african-americans sometimes, are embarrassed by their slave ancestors. they want to talk about those who were free or those who struck a blow for freedom. yet, for me african-americans that survived the middle passage that survived that sort of transition to this new horrible harsh world, really were so strong. >> a story of what happened before the wreck and after the
wreck, can you talk about what life was like from december 3rd when the ship left mozambique to december 27th? what was it like on that ship? >> well, you know, we have very little recorded testimonies of any experiences of people who survived the middle passage that were written down. we have the accounts that were given by traders and the few who wrote about their experiences. this is a long voyage. you're three weeks on a ship in the hold. if you are -- if you are a man, you are likely shackled the whole time. your feet as well as your hands. you may be taken to exercise above deck maybe once a day. maybe by the light of the moon. you're still close to africa, so there's going to be a very close
watch on what's going on, and on the opportunities for escape or rebellion or in some cases suicide. if you are a woman, you may have a little bit more freedom, and we need to remember that we don't have the demographic breakdown of this particular ship, but within the slave trade and the middle passage writ large, nearly 25% of those who are carried across from africa were classified as children. >> in many ways the way to think about it is is cargo. in essence, the goal here is to pack as many in, try to make as
many people survive as possible for the profit margins, so on the one hand, when people are taken above deck, it's, in part, to sort of keep them physically fit, keep them moving, trying to encourage their ability to survive. i think the thing that is really powerful when you think about what it must have been like, first of all, while you may have many members of tribes that speak similar languages, you had many who didn't. >> you a sense of disorientation. in some ways the ability to survive that is really one of the great triumphs of human history. >> the fact that this particular ship was coming from east africa is important here because up until that time most of the slave trade coming from the west africa. >> you are looking at -- we're
talking about 1794. it's the end of the century that ushered in so many berebellions, revolutions for freedom in the world, right? it's also at the end of the century that saw the largest single centuries of the slave trade. if there were 12 million people transported, seven million, more than 7 million in that 100 years alone, right, so it's tremendous. it's the end of a huge century in many respects. >> where was the united states in its slave story in 1794? the president of the united states at that time, a slave owner where. >> what you have is the 18th century. you have about 600,000 enslaved africans between 600,000 and 800,000 living in what eventually became the united states much america.
so much of what you had that made america work was built on the back of the slave trade. it was to not just grow the crop, but to -- to take the swamps in south carolina and turn them into rice fields, the kind of labor that was involved. also, what you also had is this amazing sense of creating the african-american, wrestling with christianity, learning the language. in some ways we know slavery as
an 18th century finish no, ma'am in an. t --phenomenon. it helps us refocus our attention on the earlier period that laid the foundation on which so much rest of the slave environment was built upon. >> they're being articulated and forwarded by women, by enslaved peoples, right? a revolution begins in haiti. soon after three years before this voyage in 1791. the enslaved and the free blacks of haiti strike for rel use.
it's the only successful large scale revolution in the new world, and if you are a trader, you understand the economic importance of slavery writ large. you are understanding that the world is shifting a little bit under you. the trade from west africa, which has been strong for so long, and will continue, may to these people need to change. suddenly it gets oriented in the late 18th sen dli and throughout the 19th sevenically back around the cape and over to brazil. >> what happens in mozambique is about a million people from
mozambique abroad mainly to brazil. from the late 18th century into well into the 19th century. >> it allow uz us to tell that the story of slavery was much more complicated than just simply west africa to the united states. it also helps people understand how large the impact of the slave trade was in the caribbean, in latin america, and candidly, how small it was in the united states. >> with the trade being outlawed, you begin to see the numbers decline, right?
you still see people smuggling in enslaved africans. in fact, the last slave ship that we know about was about 1862, and it was near mobile, alabama. in essence, while the formal slave trade was outlawed, the kind of smuggling that went on continued to bring in a trickle. no longer a flood, but a trickle of new africans into the united states. >> at the same time you see in the u.s. context is the massive build-up of the internal slave trade, or the domestic slave trade so while it's not as if, of course, slavery doesn't end, but the trading ends slavery, in america, and the united states ramps up and said you have a million of people who are being moved from the upper south, this area, right? washington d.c., alexandria, maryland, down to louisiana.
>> the part of the slave project, the slave rex project. >> what we have is that will we realize that the goal of this initially was to find iconic pieces of a slave ship. we didn't send out to found the -- what we realized is that creating a new museum, you wanted people to understand by humanizing the slave trade, and we looked around the world for ships. we look in -- we spent a lot of time in cuba. looking at ships trying to figure out. this is where we begin to exploration. as we got close, we wanted to make sure we began to found some.
inspect jaits in south africa, in west africa, in brazil. people within the united states park service. an array of people who want to realize that maritime archaeology traditionally didn't look for the ships of the enslaved, and so we felt that we needed to work with partners that would help us map the ocean floors, help us to begin to identify where other ships could be, because our goal is pretty simple. on the one hand, we wanted to find a ship for the museum. on the other hand, what we wanted to do was stimulate a national, international conversation and interest in finding the hundreds of ships that are on the ocean floor. we wanted to make sure that people in senegal had the training and the interest and the resources to look in their wards. people in brazil. people in south africa.
on the one hand, the goal was very confined. find us a ship. on the other hand, the goal was if this is the last frontier of knowledge, if this is something that will help us understand the slave trade more than anything else that we have now, then how do we help countries around the world do this work? the slave project in part is also about education. helping to train young people to become under water archaeologists, helping nations through collaborations to find the resources to identify and bring up their own wrecks. our hope would be that this project will go on for many generations helping us to learn more by bringing up remnants, pieces of these ships, where. >> the historical significance
of this particular wreck, and that has been one of our really -- that's been one of the guiding lights, and that goes back to what we talked about in the beginning. the importance of remembering these people that survived the horrific journeys, and the people whose names we might not ever remember and who never survived. i think that this was one of the most incredibly moving components. >> part of what we wanted to do is to trace the root of the ship, right? >> we also wanted to meet the people involved. we spent time with the people in the interior where sort of most of the people on the -- were macua people.
we had this idea that we wanted to get soil from mozambique, and spread it over the ship. that was our idea. well, we got to mozambique, and the chiefs of the macua had this amazing ceremony for us, and they reached a spot where the enslaved were sold. a kind of auction spot. they then began to dig dirt, and they put dirt in this amazingly beautiful vessel. then they said to us in no uncertain terms -- basically they said you thought this was your idea. this is your ancestors. telling you what you need to do because once you sprinkle this dirt over the -- our people will sleep in their homeland. you are sitting here crying. the research endeavor. it's more than a museum
exhibition. it's really, as paul said, it's really about recognizing that the slave trade is not about yesterday. it's as much about tomorrow for so many people, and it really gave us sort of new insights into how to help people remember and understand the importance of this, says and then to finish the story about this, the soil. we had planned to have a ceremony in capetown, and overlooking camp's bay. we were hosted by amazing man named albi saks that involved in the anti-paapair tied movement. well, the day of the ceremony, it was horrible. it was pouring rain. the sea was angry. the wind was unbelievably strong. you suddenly realized this could have been like the day that the ship went down. it was that bad. we couldn't get boats out.
ultimately we had these divers get out as far as they could, and then they sprinkled the soil. what happened is as soon as the soil hit the water, the sun came out. rain stopped. wind stopped. suddenly you realized don't mess with ancestors. you had this real sense that this was a special moment, and we stood there just unbelievably connected to these people whose names we'll never know. really then it topped it off was a woman that was part of the ceremony who was a descendant of mozambique and slaves that read a poem, and she read this poem in african and portuguese and english. just talked about how important it was that the work we were doing was allowing people to sleep in their own soil, allowing people to be remembered, and most importantly, allowing us, the
living, to recognize how connected we are to this story, and those are the things that make all the work we do special. that's why we feel so lucky to be able to do this. >> long before that day, before the divers even hit the water, can you talk about the research effort and how you originally found this? >> this, in some ways began long ago, right? it began long before the museum's involvement. it began with the desire and the initiative to look for wrecks. much like the one we were engaged in. have at the museum. that took time. it takes time to look through a variety of archival sources. you are looking at a combination of archival work and archaeological work and all sorts of detective work. anthropology work talking to
communities sometimes about where they know of wrecks and what they know of the history of wrecks. there's vaerlt of techniques before you find a wreck and then for the variety of sort of detective work, diagnostic testing and after you find something so you're not having a confirmation bias, right? this wreck but even beyond that we find a wreck. when we found this wreck and we're ready to sort of confirm what it was to ourselves and begin to talk about it, could this be, you know, what we think it is? >> what's the time for this? >> we're talking about a period of about seven or eight years.
they'll try to get to some of the material that we found, and they'll come back the next day, and they'll be covered over by six feet more of sand. all that said, when we began to realize what we had, we realized that you didn't just uncover a ship. our research had taken us to archives in what health care a story about a single ship, was something much more global. that clearly depended on the expertise, knowledge, skills,
and capacity much the team that lonnie referenced. this international team. no one person. no one small group could have done this work. >> what do we have from the ship? what are we seeing from the museum? >> well, i this i we're still obviously diving on the ship. one of the things we know we have are these iron ballasts. the human cargo is light. you need ballasts to give that balance to the ship. we're going to bring up a piece of the -- couple of the ballast pieces. we're also going to bring a pulley that talks about how the sails were used, et cetera. i'm also still looking for a tiny piece of wood from the hull of the ship. in essence, we're still diving. that gives us a kind of -- so i want something not a hull ship
because you can't find, but i want people to be able to sort of create an evocative moment where they can look at these pieces and begin to think about what this means, who these people were, what their loss was, what did they sacrifice for all of us, and that in essence to really say this was not an example, an attempt to do sort of a rather pedestrian exhibit. rather, this is a chance for you to revel in and wrestle with this history in an evocative way. >> that's what our museum really strives to do and is doing so well. we think about the importance of this story. it's not just the story of america, but to the world. the things that we've been finding often are incredible.
icon,ic right? sometimes they're incredibly beautiful and iconic, and sometimes they're iconic because they're so -- they've been -- they're objects that have been cast away. they're wrecks. to help people understand these objects that might be as simple as an iron bar or as simple as a piece of wood, and to look at them in a new light adds a whole lot of depth, and knowledge tore what we're doing, and i think in some ways that's what we do. that's what would be best. >> of the 200 -- more than 200 slaves that didn't make it off the ship, is there any expectation of finding any human remains or bones in this wreck?
>> i think that i would expect we'll find human remains. what our commitment is to return those remains to mozambique to let them lay in their native soil. we haven't found any yet, but as paul was saying, one of the real challenges of this site is that if you remove the sand quickly it's replaced again. there's a lot of work that has to be done, but i think we will probably find human remains. >> what about the chains that held these people in the hold? >> we have -- we have -- i think we have found a chain that's sort of encrusted, if you will. we will find iron work like that. we'll eventually bring pieces of that back to the museum as well. i think what we would like to do is in essence say we walk into the museum and see this. you will see the pieces.
you will also see an omulet from the lobi tribe. this was a west african tribe. this was supposed to protect them from being taken as slaves. you'll then also see a slave shackle. a shackle that was really designed for children. small shackle. you'll be in a darkened space. then you'll hear periodically voices describing what the slave trade was like, what the middle passage was lake, but really just an evocative space, and we think this will really be something that the visitors will always remember. >> is this going to be right at the entrance to the museum? >> it's going to be near the beginning of the history exhibitions. the museum has basically three floors of galleries. one is a kind of historical narrative that takes you from africa through -- well into the 21st century.
>> the museum will open in the fall of 2016 wrrn president obama will cut the ribbon, and that's the case. we are promptly roughly a year away from opening. >> what do you do that day? especially with the first african-american president being there for the opening right across from the white house, right near the washington monument. >> in some ways this whole journey for me now more than ten years has been an unbelievably humbling journey, and in some ways what it will mean is a couple of things. it will mean that, first of all, the national mall is the place where the world comes to learn what it means to be an american. now we'll have a museum that will enrich and maybe complete the way we begin to understand who we are as an american. to see people engaging with that is going to be very moving.
i guess the other piece is that one of the joys of this process and the joys of the smithsonian is that the smithsonian is a place where people will come and wrestle with important questions. they might not wrestle with those in chicago or a museum in l. amount or a museum in new york. because they're coming to do the smithsonian, because they trust the smithsonian, this gives us an amazing educational opportunity to engage with maybe thousands and maybe millions of people who might not explore this subject anywhere else. here we're going to get a chance to educate the world and share the story because it's part of the smithsonian. >> paul, you are the curator of the museum. all of the exhibits, are they going to be ready that day? >> i'm one of the curators of the museum, and that gives me extreme confidence that, yes, all the exhibits will be ready. we have an incredible team of curators, of colleges people, of project managers,ed administrats
to make sure we not only open on time, but open with the best museum that the mall has. i think that -- i say that with no small sense of pride and a smile, but i also think that what's crucial to remember is that in addition to the national museum on the national mall, which is an incredibly important sight and will remain an incredibliably important site for people to come to from around the world, our work exists in communities all across the nation and the slave ex progress gives us an opportunity to talk about our work around the world and the impact this museum has on helping to build capacity, to help to bring these kinds of conversations to people as far flung as mows am book, to charleston, south carolina, to
oakland, california, and i think these are the kind of ways that we see our work. curators, to director alike, as engaging in the world, right? we're here, yes, on the national mall. we're also out in a variety of communities and a variety of important ways. >> in some ways the goal is pretty simple. >> the job is to create a safe space where difficult questions around race, around poverty, around the possibility of america are engaged, and allow people to use history as a
useful tool. it's great to be a good museum. we will be a good museum. we also want to be a place that matters. that gives people that value and helps them realize that we're still being divided, challenged, hurt by the space of race. to prod, to wrestle, to understand, we'll always be divided that way as a nation. >> is it going to be a permanent exhibit at the museum? how long will it be there? >> right now we're looking at a ten-year period. i hope that part of the work that we're doing with other entities around the world will allow us to then periodically bring in newer finds. newer discoveries. expanding our notions of these ships. to be able to find something that may have left the west coast of africa or something that was in brazil or the
caribbean. what the goal is to use it as a launching pad for what we hope will be a many year project that allows us to both showcase the work of other people, but also to help people begin to understand maybe one ship at a time how complicated, how large, how essential the slave trade is to our understanding of who we are globally today. >> i know as you look at some of the wrecks, the recovery effort was kept under wraps for several years. are there other projects that are also underwraps right now? >> well, we're working on a number of areas around the world. our partners with the national park service.
we know of material -- of archival material that document wrecks there. we began a process with them with them in the lead really of them beginning that process of survey and the smithsonian is coming in to begin a process of community engagement and research that is connecting to communities there. what they all do is contain potential and almost or more importantly contain those crucial historical and community building elements to have these conversations around these trades, around these ships,
around these ve around these vectors and trajectories. >> you don't have the names of any of these individual slaves who either lived or died in wreck. do you wish you had a name, or is the wreck enough? >> well, you wish that you could honor them by calling their name. there's a long tradition in many communities, the african-american communities, that as long as you can say someone's name, they're never gone. they're never without. we can honor their spirits by remembering and the relics, if you will, that we're able to find, and our hope is that, yes, as we do this work, maybe we'll find names. the reality is you probably are not going to in moss caset case. you realize that though they may be nameless or faceless, they're
alive in our spirits and that they're crucial to our understanding of who we are. in a way for us this is an opportunity to say the past matters. the way the tribal folks and the folks in mozambique reacted to this helped us realize that what we're doing is more than looking back. what we're really doing is helping people find candidly some healing. it's something we haven't talked about candidly or openly. our hope is that by shining a light and all the dark corners, we can find that wrereconciliat and healing. >> people find that healing at this exhibit. >> i think they will. i know they will. because of what we experienced this summer. >> i think that what we experience this summer in terms of africans engaging with this
story of slavery was rebellatory, right? everyone is going to come to this with their own history, right? everybody is going to come to this with their own sense of personal or ethnic or national sort of understanding or connection or a feeling of lack of connection to this history. what we're finding when we open this story up to the world to anyone is that we can find the connection for everyone to this story. maybe not personally like through lynnage, but the story of humanity and the story of the fact and the power of the -- if something that ought to touch and can touch anyone and help to change that. >> before we go, you said that you were told when you were in mozambique that this is your
ancestor is telling you what you need to do. what do you think they'll be saying when this exhibit opens at the national museum. >> what i hope is that my ancestors are smiling. smiling because they're no longer forgotten. smiling because the struggle, the story of their lives is really inspiration. and hopefully smiling because finally they get to fill out the narrative of helping us all understand who we are and how we've all been shaped by the slave trade and by slavery. because people forget the slave trade is the first real international global business. so so many nations of europe make their money, provide the foundations through the slave trade. and slavery itself is the economic nation of the united states, brazil. so what we want people to do is yes, understand the story through the eyes of those
enslaved but also recognize that even if you weren't enslaved you were shaped in powerful ways by this experience. >> lonnie bun chrks director of the national museum of african-american history and culture. paul gardulo is one of the curators there. thanks so much for joining us on american history tv. >> thank you. >> all weekend american history tv features denver, colorado. c-span's city tours site recently shoescased its history. because of ilths central location denver is a distribution hub for many products including beer. the city is home to more than 100 breweries. learn more about denver all weekend here on american history tv. >> this exhibit came about when, you know, in looking back our history was not in the museums or in books.
so eventually when people started to look at the '60s they realized that a lot took place here in colorado. this was a stronghold of the movement. here, california and texas. this is bona fide colorado history. why isn't the story being told. what you see here most promin t prominently is the symbol of the united farm workers union, the thunderbird, black on red. a flag. an armed banner. and a short-handled hoe. we included the hoe with these clothes because the united farm workers union was organized to protect the rights of farm workers. to give the workers dignity. that short-handled hoe is what people used to bourque work in
the fields with, and it was short-handled to always remind them of their low station in life. it was without dignity. it was finally outlawed. so you can see where the struggle came from when you take a look at that hoe. and when you look at the symbol, it's a strong symbol, and it speaks to the people. and it became a primary symbol in marches. and certainly on the picket lines when the union representatives and the members and people from the urban areas and the countryside protested. against the injustice of agricultural workers. so the starting of this union began -- or gave more force to the union because they started to utilize, you know, civil disobedience, non-violence, and
it was very powerful. cesar chavez and delaz huerta did a lot of work in organizing in their five-year grape strike was successful and really was one of the most successful boycotts and strikes in american labor history. of course we wanted to talk about the story of women as well. they played an instrumental role within the movement. but we decided we couldn't give a whole unit to women. so we wove the story of women throughout the exhibit. i'd like to draw your attention to one particular story-x that's the story of the flofral worker in brighton, colorado. these floral workers, these women worked in horrible conditions at the kidiyama plant. and they worked in rooms that
were very high in humidity. the floors were always damp. very filthy. the equipment was unsafe. and they worked eight, nine, ten-hour days without overtime pay with very few breaks. so they led a strike that lasted 122 days. and here we have one of the lead organizers in this photograph is lupe brisseno, who chained herself with other women that includes rachel sandoval, martha de la real and they brought a lot of attention to their issue. so women were often on the front lines of the movement. we can't talk about the chicano movement in colorado without
mentioning the name of corky gonzalez. he became the spokesperson and leader of the chicano movement in this state. and he came up through the ranks as a young boy growing up in the barrios, became a boxer and got involved as a young adult in the war on poverty and mainstream politics. but he became very angry as did many of his friends and families that government failed the people. they did not have that voice so strongly needed to determine their own lives to fight or create opportunities for better housing, health, education, workers' rights, all of those
opportunities given to us in the constitution. we're in the student movement section now. and in this area we tell the story of the activism that young people took up at the university level and at the high school level. at the high school level the students were beginning to voice their opposition to their treatment by teachers that was discriminatory. they were often put down, made to feel lesser than. there were no textbooks that had their history. there were no teachers that looked like them. and so they started to protest and at the denver west high there was a blowout. in other words, the students organized themselves to walk out of class and protest.
of these injustices. and they walked out and were followed by other high schools throughout the state including some high schools in pueblo, colorado. the chicano movement is not ended. it continues today. we can still see many people still utilizing civil disobedience and peaceful means to try to make change. but the important part of any movement and the important thing we have to remember about the chicano movement is that change was made. organizations sprang up that benefited the communities, that provided health care to communities, to the people. there were attorneys, judges representing people in the courts and teachers in the
schools, principals. at last we had a new generation of professionals teaching and making change, continuing to make change. that does not mean that we have a perfect world. there's so much work to do. but anyone who's willing to share, teach, and stand up against injustice is carrying forward the principles of movements, and our people have a lot of work to do to carry forward the issues and the work of the chicano movement. but we feel very proud of the changes that we have made. >> this weekend we're featuring the history of denver, colorado together with our comcast cable partners. learn more about denver and the other stops on our cities tour at cspan.org/citiestour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on
c-span 3. next, author richard brookhiser discusses the life and legacy of founding father alexander hamilton. brookhiser argues that hamilton's economic achievements including his support for building domestic factories and debt reconciliation were key components to making the fledgling american democracy self-sufficient and prosperous. the alexander hamilton awareness society hosted this event. it's about 45 minutes. >> welcome, everybody, to the celebrate hamilton 2016 events on the 212th anniversary of alexander hamilton's passing. that happened in 1804 at the young age of 47. i'm ran chelay, president of the alexander hamilton awareness society, or