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'Barracoon' Brings A Lost Slave Story To Light

Both terrifying and wonderful, Barracoon is Zora Neale Hurston's long-unpublished account of her conversations with Cudjo Lewis, who was brought to America on the last trans-Atlantic slave ship.
"Barracoon" by Zora Neale Hurston Source: Claire Harbage

Slave narratives tend equally to fascinate and appall. They can represent history, red in tooth and claw, or, in the words of noted multiculturalist Lawrence W. Levine, "a mélange of accuracy and fantasy, of sensitivity and stereotype, of empathy and racism."

First-hand accounts such as those by Frederick Douglass, Olaudah Equiano, or Solomon Northup come to us from rare enslaved individuals who were taught to write. But most of the extant material.

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