Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style that have made her one of the preeminent American authors of the twentieth-century, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it. Offering insight into the pernicious legacy that continues to haunt us all, black and white, this poignant and powerful work is an invaluable contribution to our shared history and culture.
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256 pages

Average rating: 8.25




Community Reviews

Mar 12, 2023
8/10 stars
An easy read which gives some humanity to life before the enslavement of the person.
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Feb 28, 2022
8/10 stars
This is the story of Kossola Lewis, the elder, and vignettes from Zora Neale Hurston, the student interviewer. Lewis was extracted violently from his home among the vast Yoruba villages, locked in a barracoon or pen with fellow captives, and trafficked to Mobile, Alabama in 1860. Enslaved for 5 years and 6 months, his request to be sent back to Africa is denied. He and his fellow trafficked shipmates work to build Africa where they are. We are indebted to the late Ms. Hurston for her perseverance, her service to the elder, and her care to represent his story as he told it to her.
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