This July at The Bookly Club we’ll be reading Zora Neale Hurston‘s profound work, Barracoon. And we hope you’ll read with us as we all further our education on American history. How do you join? Check HERE. And now more about our selection…
Although Hurston wrote Barracoon nearly 100 years ago in 1927, it was only just published in 2018. It’s tells the story of Cudjo Lewis, originally known as Oluale Kossola, who at the time was the only living survivor of the Clotilda; the last slaver known to have made the transatlantic journey (unearthed just last year in 2019).
Hurston was, and is, one of America’s most notable authors and anthropologists. She’s the author of dozens of award-winning poems, essays, plays, novels, short stories, books, and a filmmaker. As a Black woman in America at the turn of the century, she focused her work on the issues of the Black community and was an integral part of the Harlem Renaissance movement. She told stories of the African American experience, and Barracoon was in fact her very first book-length work.
“The African slave trade is the most dramatic chapter in the story of human experience.”
– Zora Neale Hurston
The Western slave trade legally plundered Black bodies for 364 years. From just 1801 to 1866, an estimated 3,873,600 Africans were enslaved and traded for European and American merchandise. Born 1841, Olulale Kossola was kidnapped to America in 1860 along with 115 other Africans on the Clotilda. He was 19 years old.
Hurston interviewed eighty-six-year-old Kossola over a period of time in 1927. She visited him at his home in Alabama bearing gifts and sharing stories. Barracoon is Hurston’s careful transcription of Kossola’s narration of home, family, his childhood in Africa, the genocide of his community, how he was stolen away and enslaved in America and later set free from slavery, his subsequent founding of Africatown, the raising of his African children who never set foot on African soil, and ultimately his life-long journey to find home.
“Where we come from we doan know. Where we goin, we doan know.”
– Oluale Kossola
Barracoon is a one-of-a-kind storytelling experience written by a legendary American author. It’s a keystone part of American history, and one all too often forgotten or ignored. And it’s long, long overdue that we give stories like Kossola’s into the spotlight. Black lives matter. Past. Present. And future.
So let’s take one small step in living those words by reading Barracoon to further our education on what it is to be Black in America, how this country was started, and where we are.
Here’s how you join us…
- pick up a copy from where ever you get your books, and read along with us anytime between now and the end of July
- keep us posted on social using #booklymark and tagging @thebooklyclub
- stay tuned for our discussion post on Instagram and our reviews here on the blog to share our thoughts