What I’m reading this week: “Baracoon: the story of the last black cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
The story of Oluale Kossola, survivor of the last known slave ship to cross the Atlantic, told in his own words. In 1927, famed anthropologist and writer Zora Neale Hurston spent three months with the then-eighty-six-year-old Lewis to preserve his story.
Kossola vividly describes being captured by a rival village in Africa as a young man, sold into slavery and shipped to America. He tells of his years in cruel bondage followed by chimeric emancipation after the civil war, and of being marooned for life in an inhospitable new world with no means to ever return to his home in Africa.
Hurston took great pains to preserve Kossola’s singular linguistic and storytelling style, which she rightly viewed as essential to the authentic voice of his experience. She allows Kossula to bring his stories to life in his own words, and deftly weaves together the historical details with spellbinding mastery. An uniquely poignant and irreplaceable landmark of American history and culture.