The American ShoahPosted March 28th, 2011 by Thomas Norman DeWolf
Shoah is the Hebrew word for “calamity.” It is generally used to describe the holocaust that occurred in Europe during World War II as Adolph Hitler led the extermination of millions of Jews, Gypsies, African Germans, homosexuals and disabled people. There is no doubt that this was one of history’s most horrific events.
But there was another holocaust that people in America are still in denial about. It is the transatlantic slave trade, which was “the largest long-distance forced movement of innocent people in human history.” Over a period of four centuries, the entire African continent was depopulated as more than 20 million people were kidnapped and enslaved. The overwhelming majority were taken to South America and the Caribbean. Five percent (half a million people) were transported to the North American colonies. Those 500,000 became a community of four million by the end of the American Civil War. At least ten of those people whose lives were aborted by slavery were my ancestors.
On the 25th of March, “The living legacy of 30 million untold stories” was commemorated on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade .
I spent that day remembering….
From Mississippi: My maternal 2X great grandmother, Bettie Warf and three of her children — Catherine, Owen and Mary Elizabeth; My paternal 2X great grandfather, Count Nicholson, his wife, Lucy and their son, Wash. From Alabama: My great grandfather, Tom Leslie, his wife, Rhoda and her mother, Easter Reeves. No doubt there are additional brothers, sisters and children whose names I shall never know.
The year 2011 will continue as the UN designated “Year for people of African descent” . That number exceeds 200 million people in the Americas alone. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says this year “offers a unique opportunity to redouble our efforts to fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that affect people of African descent everywhere.”
What a timely message for the year I will spend engrossed in writing a book; extolling people to Gather at the Table for remembrance and healing.
Eastern Mennonite University
Harlem Book Fair
Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Post Racial Society
Summer Peacebuilding Institute
Tulsa race riot
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