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The Slave Trail of Tears

Location: uptown campus
Building:Woldenberg Art Center

During the fifty years before the Civil War (1820-60), close to one million people, enslaved African Americans, were pushed out of the Upper South (mainly from Virginia and Maryland) and forced to journey to the Deep South (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama) to work on the cotton and sugar plantations newly laid out there. 

Edward Ball tells the story of this exodus, a migration twice as large as the wagon train journey that would carry half a million whites west, a movement twenty times bigger than the Native American "Trail of Tears" that led into Oklahoma.

On the "Slave Trail of Tears," people marched 1,000 miles in chained "coffles" of 20 to 100 from the Chesapeake to Louisiana (the origin of the "chain gang"). Or, they were herded onto ships that sailed from near Washington, D.C. around Florida, and up the Mississippi River to be sold in New Orleans (the meaning of "sold down the river").

Edward Ball fills out the lives of enslaved people who made this grueling passage and tells the stories of the slave traffickers who drove them. He discovers that many, black and white, turn out to be our great-grandparents.

The "Slave Trail of Tears," and not the African slave trade, is the reason why most black people have roots in the Delta South. The Slave Trail changed 500,000 families, populated the Southeast, and reshaped America.

Who were the nearly one million enslaved who made new homes in Louisiana and Mississippi? Where did they come from, and when did they arrive? What kinds of companies, slave traffickers, and other people ran the mass resettlement? Are there legacies of this exodus among families, politics, and in private lives?

This lecture is the the second public event in the inaugural Gulf South Writer in the Woods program, a two-year study with Edward Ball. The Gulf South Writer in the Woods program is co-sponsored by A Studio in the Woods and the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and includes a residency and public workshops and lectures exploring race, family and place.

For more information contact Regina Cairns by phone at 504-314-2854
Tickets are Not required