You may have seen that in this past week the United States has commemorated a dark milestone its history. On Sunday thousands of people gathered in Hampton, Virginia to mark 400 years since the first slave ship landed in America. Prayers were offered and Episcopal (Anglican) churches across the nation were encouraged to toll their bells as a sombre reminder of the injustice and inhumanity of slavery in the US. It may actually be that slave ships arrived even earlier than 1619, but this is a documented landing. It's estimated that between 400,000 and 700,000 Africans were transported directly to North America but 12.5 were shipped to the New World. At least 1.5 million of them perished on the journey.
It was a shock for me to discover that some slave ships were built in what was then the British colony of Newfoundland, at least 19 constructed between 1751 and 1792. Newfoundland also traded in cod for rum, sugar and salt as part of the slave economy. An artist named Camille Turner is highlighting these grim realities in an exhibition which is part of the Bonavista Biennale.