Uncovering History, Together
The colonists who invaded New England in the early 17th century were the first to initiate slaving voyages from the continent and their descendants were the last to pursue this heinous traffic. Over 1,740 documented transatlantic slaving voyages were made on vessels constructed and registered in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut or having departed from their seaports.
If culture, in the words of Seth Godin, can be summarized as “people like us do things like this,” then New England’s culture has been fundamentally shaped by a deep and longstanding investment in the dehumanizing systems that robbed millions of Africans and their descendants of life and liberty. It is also reflective of our protracted collective disavowal of this fact—a fact that would be glaringly obvious if we weren’t so determined to not see it.
Through collaborative research, place-based education programs, digital humanities projects, events, and advocacy, The Atlantic Black Box Project seeks to engage the public in the collective rewriting of our regional history.
Together, we ask: Why have we been telling certain stories about New England and not others? How did we come to unknow the region’s deep complicity in the institution of slavery and systems of oppression? As we work to recover this repressed knowledge, what concrete actions in the present might its acknowledgement recommend or require? How does this seemingly remote history relate to our current national conversations about race, privilege, identity, and access to the “American dream”?
Join our movement of historical recovery.