How The Oldest Slave Trade Survivor Protected Her Heritage

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Kidnapped from West Africa and forced into slavery, Redoshi had no idea the life of trauma and separation she would be subjected to. 

Despite being a forced child bride who was married off aboard the very last slave ship to reach America in 1860, she refused to let her oppressors force defeat upon her. 

She passed down her cultural heritage not just to her daughter, but to other scholars eager to preserve the voice of an enslaved woman who lived through five years in captivity, the Civil War, AND the Great Depression. 

When she spoke of life on the Bogue Chitto plantation in Alabama, prominent author Zora Neale Hurston was there, ready to record it all.

Hurston played a pivotal role in preserving Redoshi’s life story, told not from a male or slave owner’s perspective (as is common), but straight from Redoshi herself. 

The ramifications of excluding Redoshi from history books also did not sit well with Civil Rights Movement memoirist Amelia Boynton Robinson.

Robinson, the same activist responsible for inviting Martin Luther King, Jr. to mobilize the Black community in Selma, Alabama, was so moved by Redoshi’s testimony that she included it in her memoir, Bridge Across Jordan. 

Thanks to these historians, who magnified Redoshi’s voice through their own research and literary works, her legacy lives on forever.

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