Ser Boxley is driving the Forks of the Road Enslavement Markets History Exhibition on the Road to the People at Purdue University March 21, 2011
A NEW UNPRECEDENTED TRAVELING EXHIBITION ABOUT AMERICA ’S DOMESTIC “SLAVE” TRADING HISTORY AT NATCHEZ , MISSISSIPPI AND ITS FORKS OF THE ROAD MARKETS MAKES ITS NATIONAL DEBUT AT PURDUE UNIVERSITY MARCH 20, 2012
Until now, the story about America ’s internal domestic “slave” trade from the upper eastern seaboard and mid-west states to the deep southwestern states via Natchez , Mississippi has been largely untold except for a few articles in periodicals and certain inclusions in several scholarly written history books.
“Historic Natchez ” proper was a center of chattel slavery and the selling of enslaved people.
With exception of Adams County’s historic Courthouse building and maybe a historic building or two in downtown Natchez where auctions once were held, gone are the “slave” selling auction houses, holding pens and human commodity markets sites in Mississippi and beyond.
However the historic Natchez ’s Forks-of-the-Roads juncture where the second largest enslavement selling-market in the southwest, excepting New Orleans Louisiana , was located from 1833 until the Union Army occupied Natchez in 1863 remains!
The Forks-Of-The-Roads juncture’s roadbeds are a below the concrete and blacktop above ground historic artifact.
The extant Y shaped juncture or forks of roads of Old Washington (now D’Evereaux Street) and Liberty Roads and St. Catherine Street was the historic Natchez Trace’s terminus of the major over-ground railroad’s land and waterway routes used by long-distance professional “internal U. S. slave traders” who forced-brought or shipped thousands of African in America descendants in captivity from the “Upper South” to the “Lower South” to this juncture and re-sold them into king cotton and queen sugar enslavement.
This juncture defines the humanity, art, life, history, culture, presence and developmental contributions of Africans in America in the Southwest then and now.
If the thousands of enslaved persons sold at the Forks of the Road “were to return to the site today, they would have little difficulty in recognizing the intersection. These men, women and children were born in Africa, Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, Kentucky or Tennessee, and they ended their lives in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas or Alabama,” wrote the Mississippi historian, Jim Barnett, in his 1999 Forks-of-the-Roads Historic Landmark nomination application to the National Park Service.
Recently Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society’s Coordinator, Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-Clifford M. Boxley, MUP, with a National Park Service, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program Southeast Region’s Lower Mississippi Delta Region grant, developed a full color professional traveling exhibition about the Forks. The exhibition visually and narrative educates the public about the chattel slavery history of the Forks of the Road region and its economical and developmental growth impact of Mississippi , Louisiana and beyond.
Entitled: Forks of the Road Traveling Exhibition, the Exhibition addresses the absence of the presentation and interpretation of the history of America ’s own internal chattel “slave” trafficking and its impact in the Mississippi-Louisiana region and beyond.
It is both a reading and visual Exhibition consisting of 12 six by eight foot panels that provides information, charts and pictures on different aspects of the Forks of the Road history. This information is displayed larger than life.
Our Traveling Exhibition goes beyond the normal history of enslaved persons by providing information that sets precedents for research.
For example, a most innovative panel gives people the opportunity to view actual copies of bills of sales executed at the Forks of the Road. This panel is complemented with a distribution chart that shows who sold and who bought enslaved people and their places of distribution.
Another panel shows the “slave” trading routes to the deep-south, as well as an update of the research reflecting four enslavement sale market sites at the Forks of Road.
Yet another panel illustrates a former enslaved persons’ written recollection of a “slave-master’s” lesson plan designed to convert “slaves” to Christianity and how they survived the rules and laws of chattel enslavement.
As the researcher and developer of the Forks of the Road Traveling Exhibition, Ser Boxley used historical sources such as “slave” narratives, history books about slavery, nineteenth century newspapers, archival collections, and “slave-masters” diaries such as that of Bennett Barrow, a nearby Louisiana “slave” and plantation owner.
A most difficult part of the research in hopes of answering the proverbial question of who brought enslaved persons at the Forks of the Road sale markets and where were they taken was searching for the elusive bills of sale.
This particular Exhibition is the culmination of Ser Boxley’s 16 years of research and work for bringing about equal history commemorations in the Mississippi–Louisiana region using the historic Forks of the Road chattel slavery sale markets sites as the equalizer that compliments an eighty years something local tourism industry of today. This industry and other preservation entities promotes the slavery era history of “slave-masters” estates and other edifices while failing to present the history of the presence, humanity, art, life, history, culture, community development and wealth gained by the people upon whose backs the economy, plantation estates, governments and developmental contributions and so on were built.
“Advocates for remembering the Forks of the Road slave market have faced resistance in a city that marketed itself beginning in the 1930s as a place “Where the Old South Still Lives. Natchez tourism was built around the large number of extant antebellum mansions in the area but was largely silent about the role of slavery in the “Old South” and about the city’s African-American history” wrote Drake University Professor Maura Lyons in a published article 10-2011 @http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21502552.2011.592657
This exhibition not only speaks to the heritage of African-Americans, but also speaks to all types of people who have benefited from the institution of chattel slavery, which was enslavement supported by law.
Viewers and readers will have a chance obtain a story of enslaved people’s struggles and life, not shown and told publicly in the Forks’ region, until Ser Boxley’s hard fought campaign for equal history commemoration.
Since SPIRIT serves as a motivator of human activity based upon their prior habitual conditioning and cannot be enslaved, African people before invasions of Africa by strangers, had always been, as the late President of Kenya East Africa, Jomo Kenyatta wrote in his book Facing Mt. Kenya, “conditioned by the cultural and social institutions of centuries, to a freedom of which Europe has little conception, and it is not in (their) nature to accept serfdom forever.”
Therefore enslaved African descendant people in the Forks of the Road region and beyond, from within their own humanity and SPIRIT were motivated to survive the rules for making “slaves” and defiantly held onto their humanity.
It is about their human blood, sweat and tears and African SPIRIT the Forks of the Road juncture and extant “antebellum” estates and other edifices speak and the Forks of the Road Traveling Exhibition show and tell.
The Exhibition is of museum quality and having it debut at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana from March 20th to June 1st 2012 fulfills Ser Boxley’s vision of having it first debut at a significant venue nationally.
Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-Clifford M. Boxley, M.U. P. California State University San Jose is also scheduled to speak twice to students and others at Purdue’s Black Cultural Center on March 21, 2012 at 2 and 6 P. M.
His topic is: The Union Army and Navy Mississippi Valley Campaign’s Greatest Generations of Enslaved People’s Greatest “Slave Rebellion in the History of U. S, as Freedom Fighters in the Civil War.
In addition, he will make presentations to kindergarten and fifth grade students. He welcomes the warning of “not to be surprised that eighty percent of the attending audiences will be “white!”
His California experiences with predominantly “white” colleges, elementary and high schools students, other audiences and civic organizations, social movements and Democratic Party political activism prepared himwell for such Purdue University audiences.
A few persons have made financial donations to help underwrite the cost of renting a van and driving the Exhibition up to Purdue U. We did not have funds enough to have shipping crates built yet.
Please pass this information notice along to others and release it to various media and other sources for my person!
Thank you ever so much!
Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley M. U. P.
California State University San Jose
P. O. Box 2188
Natchez, Ms. 39121
California State University San Jose
P. O. Box 2188
Natchez, Ms. 39121