An Inclusive Litany

7/8/00

The Boston Globe, July 8, 2000:
Darnell Williams won't be among the millions of spectators who will gather around Boston Harbor next week to view the colorful Tall Ships.

Williams is planning on boycotting the event, because when he looks at the great vessels, he doesn't see majesty; he sees haunting icons of the slave trade. When the trade reached its peak, an armada of sailing ships plied the Atlantic Ocean bound for the Americas, with human cargo chained below deck.

"As a person of conscience, you look at these ships and it forces you to think" of the tens of millions who dies during the Middle Passage, said Williams, who heads the NAACP's Springfield chapter. "These ships drum up negative images of how our people arrived in this country." ...

George Lindsey, 67, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Dorchester... is angered by what he says the ships represent.

"This is a purely symbolic issue for me," he said. "When it comes to black folks, there's a lack of sensitivity for our history and culture. We're still dealing with the fallout from slavery and these ships are just horrible, horrible reminders."

Said Carolyn Richardson, 28, of Jamaica Plain: "It's appropriate that as a society we become aware of the issues that offend people," she said. "It's not a matter of being politically correct. It's about being respectful. If there are some blacks who find the ships offensive, I think they shouldn't sail." ...

Those who will not be attending the Tall Ships festivities said that they will take time to educate their children about the evils of slavery in America.

"The bottom line is that when the average black person thinks of the Fourth of July or these other freedom celebrations, it's not a time for us to celebrate," said Williams. "It is more a recognition of a period of dehumanization and degradation."

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