Poems

Please take a moment to read through powerful  and inspirational poems which were created by  those involved in the Slave Trade Legacies project.

 

Colour of Money’  by Michelle Mother Hubbard 16.02.15

Many places,

like country houses,

selectively choose not to focus

on that part of their history

which was connected with slavery.

 Interested, we begged for a tour

which could give us a little bit more.

but sadly, little was mentioned.  

Jamaica, Slavery, Sugar didn’t crop up in conversation.

When our voices questioned the guides

they said there is nothing to hide,

but feel there’s no need to discuss it any further

as these historic families never visited Jamaica.

And what does that mean exactly?

As a plantation landlords they were ‘absentee’

so they weren’t seen as connected to slavery.

As for the money they acquired from plantations,

we the custodians of our history demand an explanation –

An occasional small reference on the back of a leaflet.

No proper interpretation. Would you believe it?!

Beautiful English buildings could be physical legacies

acknowledging the contribution acquired through slavery.

Unfortunately we see so many similarities

as we try to retrace our legacy across British cities.

Buildings and places listed and classified

what the untold story of these beautiful heritage sites?

These country houses, these stately homes,

were built on profits, plantation grown.

A legacy which isn’t shared or discussed.

There’s no need to hide the truth from us.  

All we ask is that you make history clear,

Global connections. The facts we need to hear.

Facts are facts. Don’t hide the truth.

Every bricks and every stone bears the proof.

The mortars and timbers that put Britain back together

were formed by the exploitation of African slave labour.  

Wealthy families owned Jamaican Estates-

Don’t edit that out. Don’t make that mistake.

They were plantation owners that became ‘absentee’,

to wash their hands of the misery of slavery.

We contribute through our council taxes

for the upkeep of local heritage places. 

We’ve researched this as an incentive

to help make things more representative.

We’ve made it a poem. We’ve published a paper:

Many stately houses have a direct link to Jamaica.  

We’re proud to be able to declare our legacy

and launch a healthy dialog on untold Black History.  

 

 

——————————————————————————-

A Sack Full Of Cotton  – by Michelle Mother Hubbard 22.01.15

 

Of course –

Cotton came from Liverpool, via pack-horse.

But where was that ‘import’ sourced?

Enslaved Africans were forced

and whipped and flogged and beaten

to ensure the supply of cotton.

 

The traces of a landscape

shape by the slave trade.

Visible legacies still last

of the industrial past…

 

…But what about our legacy?

We, whose ancestors died through slavery.

The missing information

of enslavement plantations

 

enabled an empire

to rise higher,

to climb hills,

and build mills,

 

as they wiped their hands clean

of the places they’d been,

onto white cotton handkerchiefs.

 

Further pain will be

continuously caused

if we don’t include the story

before Wilberforce.

 

The true cost

of lives lost.

My legacy.

My ancestry.

 

My great-great grand-mummy

worked to her grave for a sack full of cotton.

Yes, sir. No, sir.

Three bags full, sir!

 

The mills were bulging

as she lay starving.

Cotton couldn’t save

my ancestors from an early grave.

 

 

Make some room,

to re-shuttle the loom

with the African lives

whose blood coloured the dye,

 

each life woven

into the triangular pattern

formed in the middle passage,

crossing the ocean.

 

 

Oh cotton,

Though some have forgotten;

The threads of slavery can’t escape –

They’re woven delicately into the Derwent landscape.

 

——————————————————————————-

Blood Sweat and Tears

Picking cotton cost blood, sweat and tears,

Slaves being flogged causes blood, sweat and tears,

Slaves dying leaves blood, sweat and tears,

The clothes wear originates from blood, sweat and tears,

The common threads of blood, sweat and tears are Cotton.

Written By Bettina Wallace

A volunteer, Partner

 

 

——————————————————————————

 

 

Slave to Cotton

 I am a child of a slave cotton picker

Up at the crack of dawn working through the mid-day heat

My bed is my mother’s back she is spared the feel of the lash because of me

My human and daily needs are of no concern to my mother’s master

Darkness falls, cotton still being picked

Weighing time now comes; I’m off my mother’s back

No more protection from me as the lash is picked up

“You lazy black nigger” one lash, “your weight are not enough”, another lash,

“No food for you” another lash, “back to the field you go” and another lash.

Day light came; I look around, no sight of my mother.

I am alone, no one to care for me, yet I know that my master will not let me die as Cotton will always need to be picked.

Years pass, history repeat itself.

My master’s child is on my back

I am following in my mother’s footsteps

My child is weaned and the lash is ready

I feel the lash time after time,

I will not cry. I will not bend.

I am the child of a slave cotton picker

Written by Bettina Wallace -A volunteer, Partner

 

 

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