On November 30, 2021, I was at the Nashville Zoo which is housed on the Grassmere Plantation. As I walked the grounds, I noticed a quarters where human beings were housed in chattel slavery and treated like animals.
I saw the door was open, so I entered one of the two tiny, dark rooms. It contained several plaques with information about the people who had been trafficked there. Here’s one of them. It points out that in 1860, 32 innocent people were being forcibly held at Grassmere in lifelong labor and bondage (14 adults and 18 children).
Behind the slave quarters, there is a slave cemetery. The plaque in front of it reveals that the cemetery had originally been on another part of the plantation, but that these unidentified, human remains were dug up and moved out of the way to make room for animals to be held in the zoo.
Later that day, I turned on the news and heard Prince Charles speaking at the ceremony where the nation of Barbados officially removed the Queen as its head of state and became a republic. He boldly referred to: “the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history.”
British High commissioner to Barbados, Scott Furssedonn-Wood, said this about Prince Charles’ statement: “This is not just him coming out with a phrase; this is something that he believes very passionately in himself–that you’ve got to acknowledge injustice where you see it . . . He’s playing his part in that. It’s absolutely right that we express deep sorrow for that appalling atrocity of slavery and the unbelievable suffering that was caused.”
Perhaps the world will stay stuck in racial turmoil until we begin to honestly and openly reveal the details of the cruelty, brutality, and horrors of slavery. It’s time to shine the light on the horrible realities of the lifelong enslavement and torture of millions of Africans and their descendants.