The 1803 Igbo Landing Led to the Ultimate Act of Defiance

green grasses and body of water under blue sky
Alyssa Guzik
January 31, 2024

Temperatures rose as the sun’s rays hit the Georgia coast in May, 1803. The slave ship, The Wanderer, had delivered its cramped cargo of stolen Black lives from Africa’s west coast into the hands of slavers. But one group of captives had other plans.

Fiercely independent and rejecting their status as chattel, 75 captured Igbo people were sold upon arrival in Savannah, Georgia, and loaded onto The Schooner York. Chained and en route to plantations on St. Simons Island, a tribal chief led a revolt against the crew.

Even after drowning their captors and gaining control of the ship, navigation proved difficult, and the boat ran aground near Dunbar Creek. Once on solid ground, the Igbo found themselves with plantations ahead of them and enslavers on their trail. Refusing to surrender to white slavers, they chose the ultimate act of resistance.

As if guided by ancestral whispers, they marched hand in hand into an uncertain fate: liberation or oblivion. Stepping into the murky Dunbar Creek at high tide, singing, “By the water spirits we came, and by the water spirits we will be taken home,” they sank into the water.

This act of defiance against the insidious ideology of white supremacy remains a tragic lesson in resistance and sacrifice for ourselves and for future generations. What does your resistance look like?

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