In memory of the Zong Massacre

Surfers, Maui, Hawaii

It was on this day, the 29th of November, 1781 that the white crew of the slave ship Zong began murdering slaves by throwing them overboard.  The crew hoped to claim the murdered slaves as part of an insurance policy that allowed slavers to make claims for cargo that was jettisoned in order to save other cargo.  Due to faulty navigation, the Zong had sailed past their intended port in Jamaica and had run out of drinking water after the mistake had been identified.  The plan for murder was made after the slavers feared the starved slaves would die a natural death.  

On 29 November, the crew assembled to consider the proposal that some of the slaves should be thrown overboard. James Kelsall later claimed that he had disagreed with the plan at first but it was soon unanimously agreed. On 29 November, 54 women and children were thrown through cabin windows into the sea. On 1 December, 42 male slaves were thrown overboard, and 36 more followed in the next few days. Another ten, in a display of defiance at the inhumanity of the slavers, jumped into the sea. Having heard the shrieks of the victims as they were thrown into the water, one slave requested that the remaining Africans be denied all food and drink rather than be thrown into the sea. The crew ignored this request. In total, 142 Africans were killed by the time the ship reached Jamaica. The account of the King’s Bench trial reports that one slave managed to climb back onto the ship.[

Wikipedia

The horror of the Atlantic slave trade inflicted on humanity should never be forgotten.  Let us resolve to know this history.  To honor this history and to ensure that it will not happen again. 

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