Barracoon ~ by Zora Neale Hurston

Definition of barracoon from Merriam-Webster:
Barracoon definition is – an enclosure or barracks formerly used for temporary confinement of slaves or convicts —often used in plural.”

Although Hurston, the author of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” (which I’ve read a couple times) wrote this in the 1930s and died in 1960, this, was not published until 2018. The introductory material takes up close to 1/3 of the newly published version but that material is fascinating in itself.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo 
by Zora Neale Hursrston –
2018- 193 pages
read by Robin Miles – 3h 50m
rating – 10 / historical Black history

Hurston is, today, a noted Black woman author and anthropologist from the early 20th century. Her work was not highly regarded during her lifetime in part because of differences within the literary, historical and social communities about the value of the African American experience and culture. She died in the nearly total obscurity of an unmarked grave in 1960.

In the 1970s Alice Walker came across Hurston’s gravestone and did the research. The rest is history. Bio -Nora Neale Hurston

In the introductory material it’s explained how the work came to be finally published and that’s quite a story, too, including plagiarism and professional vanity.

Hurston’s work has it’s own preface but then she gets down to the meetings with Cudjo Lewis and his life story in his own words. He was 19 years old when he was brought to the US in 1860 and died here in 1935 – the interviews”

took place in about 1927 and 1928 so although Cudjo knew quite a lot about life in Africa, there was likely some memory loss. He was a minister and story-teller in his later years.

But his story includes some family/mating rituals in addition to how Cudjo was captured, sold into slavery, the journey to America on the slave-ship Clotilda, worked as a slave, found himself freed and tried to make a life.

This is a wonderful book with a series of Cudjo’s rather revealing stories at the end. Enjoy.

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2 Responses to Barracoon ~ by Zora Neale Hurston

  1. jameswharris says:

    You got a misspelling in your heading – Nora for Zora.


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