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Zora Neale Hurston’s Fascinating Interview With The Last Known Slave Ship Survivor Finally Gets Published

The horrors of slavery come to life in 'Barracoon: The Story of Last Black Cargo.'

A posthumously-released work of acclaimed Harlem Renaissance-era writer Zora Neale Hurston offers a chilling firsthand look at the horrors of the slave trade.

The newly published Barracoon: The Story of Last Black Cargo, shares the life of Oluale Kossula, a captive on the Clotilda, the last known slave ship to dock on U.S. shores, some fifty years after the transatlantic slave trade was outlawed.

In 1927, Hurston traveled to Plateau, Ala. where she spent months interviewing a then 86-year-old Kossula about being stolen from his homeland as a teenager, and forced into slavery. Hurston wrote Barracoon exactly as it was told to her in the English dialect of a man enslaved and forced into a country where he did not speak the language.

The year was 1860, Kossula, only 19 years old at the time, became one of more than 100 Africans kidnapped from a village in Benin and transported to Alabama.

Timothy Meaher, a wealthy shipyard owner and captain who built the Clotilda, commissioned William Foster to lead an illegal voyage to West Africa to purchase captured Africans for $50-$60 a piece.

Kossula's village of Takkoi, was raided by male and female soldiers of the Dahomey, a neighboring tribe that sold the captives of their enemies to European slave traders.

Kossula tells of European guns and large knives used by the soldiers to slaughter villagers, slicing some of their heads off, and taking others captive.

Despite an attempt to avoid capture, Kossula was caught by a soldier. He recalls pleading to return to his mother, and a particularly horrific moment when a woman Dahoney soldier chopped off the head of the king in his village at the order of the Dahoney king.

After their capture, the Africans were tied together and forced on a three-day walk to the coast where they were to be sold. Kossula had never seen a white person, or the ocean, before.

The captives were stripped naked and told that they would be getting new clothes, only to be peddled as a “naked savage,” upon their arrival in America.  They were forced to lay shackled in the dark at the bottom of the ship where they were given very little food and tiny portions of vinegar-infused water, twice a day.

After more than a month of wading through the Middle Passage, the Clotilda docked in the Alabama Golf, north of Mobile. The captives were hidden from authorities, split up, and auctioned off to different slave masters.

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Kossula was given the slave name, Cudjo Lewis, and sold to Maeher. He shared with Hurston harrowing accounts of his five-year enslavement, from arriving in America and not being able to communicate with other "colored folkses" because of the language barrier, to field work and brutal whippings (he also shared at least one account of slaves taking a whip from an overseer and beating him with it for whipping female slaves).

Like much of the story, Koussla shares vivid details of learning that slavery was over:

It April 12, 1865. De Yankee soldiers dey come down to de boat and eatee de mulberries off de trees. Den dey see us and say, “Y’all can’t stay dere no mo’. You free, you doan b’long to nobody no mo.’ ”

Oh, Lor’! I so glad. We astee de soldiers where we goin’? Dey say dey doan know. Dey told us to go where we feel lak goin’, we ain’ no mo’ slave.

Although abolished in the U.S. the slave trade continued well after 1860. And for many freed slaves, the end of the Civil War birthed another form of confinement in the enforcement of Jim Crow laws.

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The Clotilda captives worked to raise money to return to Africa, but when they found out that they were stuck in America (they assumed that the ship would take them back home after slavery ended), the group appointed Kossula to ask Meaher for land in exchange for their years of free labor. Meaher told Kossula that he didn’t owe them anything.

The former slaves decided to pool the money that they saved to buy land from him and built their own community known as Africatown.

The town became an enclave for the former slaves to preserve their African culture. Though they did adopt American customs like christianity, many spoke in their native tongues, and broken English.

Kossula became a naturalized citizen in 1868 (the 14th Amendment that made former slaves citizens only applied to those born in America). He married, Abile, another Clotilda  survivor whose name was changed to Celia. The couple welcomed six children together, all of whom were given an African name paying homage to their homeland, and an American name.

Kossula worked as a farmer and laborer until getting injured on the job. He intern filed a lawsuit over his injury and was awarded $650.00, a relatively large settlement for the time. He later became a church leader in the community and outlived all of his children, as well as his wife, who died in 1905.

When Hurston finished her book in the 1930s, no one wanted to publish it. Her intention to provide a platform for the muzzled voice of former slaves, was a controversial move indeed. Besides publishers taking issue with the book being written in Kossula’s dialect, the work was also criticized for highlighting African involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.

Hurston died in 1960. The Barracoon manuscript was placed in the Alain Locke Collection at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University (Hurston's alma mirror). In May, Harper Collins published the work for the first time in its entirety.

Click here to read an excerpt from Barracoon.

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Dr. Dre’s Estranged Wife Accused Of Embezzlement Amid Divorce

Dr. Dre and his estranged wife, Nicole Young, are embroiled in a contentious divorce battle, with both sides hurling allegations at each other. The latest round of accusations revolved around Nicole allegedly embezzling money from Record One, a company founded by Dre and Larry Chatman in 2015.

According to TMZ, the company was founded under an LLC of which Nicole is a trustee and signatory on the LLC’s checking account, and therefore had access to the company money. Chatman claims Nicole wrote herself a check for $353,571.85 last month,  plus an additional $30,000. Dre, whose birth name is Andre Young, and his business partner are giving Nicole a week to return the money or face a lawsuit.

In legal documents filed on Friday (Sept. 18), Nicole accuses her ex of hiding assets, kicking her out of their home, and years of physical, emotional, and financial abuse.

“Andre’s history with women provides context for the blatant disregard he had for the legal rights of Nicole, his wife and mother of their three children,” the complaint states before referencing Dre’s ex, Michel’le, and the Lifetime biopic that revealed the abuse she suffered. “Andre’s documented past is riddled with tales of dominating and physically abusing women, which he was forced to admit when a movie of his life was being released.”

Nicole alleges that she co-owns the trademark to Dre’s stage name. She also claims that he created an assets holding company to secretly transfer “valuable trademarks” that they allegedly co-owned. The documents allege that Dre threatened to file for divorce in late June leaving Nicole “no choice” but to “initiate divorce proceedings” two days later.

The mother of three was previously married to NBA player Sedale Threatt before marrying Dre in 1996. Dre and Nicole raised three children together, including her son from a previous relationship. Dre also fathered three children from previous relationships.

Nicole, who claims that she was coerced into signing a prenup, demanded a reported $2 million per month in temporary spousal support.

She is requesting a jury trial.

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Louisville Cop Involved In Breonna Taylor’s Death Defends Actions, Calls Protestors “Thugs”

In an email sent to fellow officers on Tuesday (Sept. 22), Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly of the Louisville Metro Police Department, defended the events that led to the death of Breonna Taylor and called out the city’s treatment of officers, amid Black Lives Matter protests. Mattingly blasted Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, former Louisville FBI agent Amy Hess, and LMPD police chief Steve Conrad, and brazenly referred to protestors as “thugs” who “get in your face and yell, curse and degrade you.”

He went on to claim that demonstrators have thrown bricks and urine at police, and that officers are expected to “do nothing.” The authenticity of the email was confirmed by Mattingyl’s attorney, CNN reports

“It goes against EVERYTHING we were all taught in the academy. The position that if you make a mistake during one of the most stressful times in your career, the department and FBI (who aren’t cops and would piss their pants if they had to hold the line) go after you for civil rights violations,” Mattingly wrote in seeming reference to Taylor’s death, which is being investigated by the FBI. “Your civil rights mean nothing, but the criminal has total autonomy.

“We all signed up to be police officers. We knew the risks and are willing to take them, but we always assumed the city had our back,” he continued. “We wanted to do the right thing in the midst of an evil world to protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

Taylor was killed during a March 13 raid led by Mattingly. The 26-year-old EMT was sleeping in bed when officers began firing into her residence without warning. The incident stemmed from an alleged drug investigation involving Taylor’s ex-boyfriend. Taylor was hit at least eight times. Her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, was unaware that police were raiding the home and fired back at officers reportedly wounding Mattingly. Walker was indicted for attempted murder of a cop, but the charges were later dropped.

Mattingly, Myles Cosgrove, and fired LMPD officer Brett Hankison, are under investigation over Taylor’s death. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has yet to announced whether or not charges will be brought against them, but it appears that they may not face criminal reprimand as the city of Louisville issued a state of emergency ahead of an announcement on the case, which could come as early as Wednesday (Sept. 23).

Later in the rant, Mattingly claimed that police aren’t racist. “We as police DO NOT CARE if you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, what you identify as…this week. We aren’t better than anyone. This is not an us against society, but it is good versus evil.”

Speaking of the pending investigation over Taylor’s death he added, “I don’t know a lot of you guys/gals but I’ve felt the love. Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night. It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.

“Put that aside for a while, keep your focus and do your jobs that you are trained and capable of doing,” he advised. “Don’t put up with their sh*t, and go home to those lovely families and relationships.”

Read the full email below.

New: LMPD Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly (who is being investigated as part of Breonna Taylor’s case) sent an email to around 1,000 officers at 2am that calls protestors thugs, complains about the government enforcing civil rights violations, and claims this is "good versus evil” pic.twitter.com/VcuyPDP790

— Roberto Aram Ferdman (@robferdman) September 22, 2020

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Tory Lanez Sued For Alleged Attack In Miami Nightclub

Tory Lanez is facing legal trouble over an alleged altercation that went down inside Miami’s LIV nightclub last year. Christopher “Prince” Harty, an up-and-coming artist and Miami promoter who appeared on Love & Hip-Hop: Miami claims that Lanez attacked him last November.

The onetime reality star alleges that Lanez, along with his entourage and security team, punched and attacked him in the nightclub. According to reports, Prince claims to have suffered blunt force trauma to his head, neck, and chest, in addition to contusions, bruises and anxiety, as a result of the incident. He is suing for unspecified damages.

“They backed me into a corner, and once I was there, they started stomping on me, jumping me,” he recalled to NBC Miami.

He believes that the friction stemmed from an Instagram post about music. “They felt that I was insinuating that they stole the record from me, and I was just like, no, I would never do that, that was never my intention. I had no issue with him at all.”

A portion of the incident was captured on cellphone video. Prince stated that he knew Lanez prior to the run-in, and helped get him into clubs before.

His attorney, Marwan Porter of Porter Law Firm, called the violent incident “a chronic problem” with Lanez who is accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in July. The 28-year-old recording artist has yet to publicly address either incident.

Hear more from Prince in the video below.

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