53 Prospect Park West
Please note that due to the hurricane, our guest for this event will not be able to attend, so Enhanced discussion is canceled for this month. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.
Enhanced Discussion presents Professor Daniel O. Sayers, Historical Archaeologist Chair, Department of Anthropology, American University Washington, D.C. and author of: A Desolate Place for a Defiant People: The Archeology of Maroons, Indigenous Americans, and Enslaved Laborers in the Great Dismal Swamp. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. 2014. (Second, paperback edition, 2016).
Those who could ran away. Untold numbers went into the swamp to get away from the cruelties of slavery. Once over a million acres, the Great Dismal Swamp was almost impenetrable. With this action, slaves exhibited grit, a keen resolve and an ironclad will to survive.
Here on the border of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina was a place so environmentally hostile and brutal that it was preferred to the barbarous and sadistic patterns of slavery. Pursuit of runaways never went deep into these recesses. Maybe it was assumed that the escapees would die anyway.
Like the quilombos of Brazil and the deep, upriver settlements in Guyana, the Great Dismal Swamp was a refuge from slavery’s terror. It was actively used from the earliest times until the Civil War. For the enslaved and historical truth-seekers, this is one of the stories in our history that must be told.