The New York Society Library presents Pamela Newkirk on “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga”
An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or Devil in the White City.
#Slave #Suicide and Death, Emancipation of Enslaved #AfricanAmericans, #African American Identity: Vol. I, 1500-1865, Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature, Toolbox Library, National Humanities Center https://t.co/HGuxn0j7Ze
“The Power to Die: #Slavery and #Suicide in British #NorthAmerica, Snyder” ( https://t.co/NfZnsJ03gl)
#Suicide among #Slaves: A “Very Last Resort,” narrative and newspaper selections, 19th-20th c. https://t.co/wrP7xDgKqI
One to One – “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life Ota Benga” Pamela Newkirk – YouTube – Published on Sep 23, 2015
In the early 1900’s, Ota Benga, a Congolese man, was captured and featured as an exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair, to be caged and put on display 2 years later, at the Bronx Zoo. In “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga,” author Pamela Newkirk traces those responsible for the misery suffered by Ota Benga.
Journalist Sheryl McCarthy talks with newsmakers about their sources of inspiration. She has private conversations about public affairs issues with the people who report on them and those who ARE the story. The subjects range from global warming issues to domestic ones.
McCarthy says, “I’m really looking forward to hosting One To One. One of the best things about being a journalist is you get to meet a lot of smart and interesting people and to pick their brains, so to speak, about a variety of important issues affecting our daily lives. It’s a learning process both for the journalist and for the audience you’re able to reach. The advantage of One To One is that there are no sound bites – just provocative, insightful, and thoughtful conversation. We have some phenomenal guests lined up for One To One and I’m excited about hearing what they have to say.”
Watch more at http://www.cuny.tv/show/onetoone
Ota Benga (c. 1883 – March 20, 1916 – Wikipedia – Ota Benga (c. 1883 – March 20, 1916) was a Congolese man, a Mbuti pygmy known for being featured in an anthropology exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904, and in a human zoo exhibit in 1906 at the Bronx Zoo. Benga had been purchased from African slave traders by the explorer Samuel Phillips Verner, a businessman hunting African people for the Exposition. He traveled with Verner to the United States. At the Bronx Zoo, Benga had free run of the grounds before and after he was exhibited in the zoo’s Monkey House. Except for a brief visit with Verner to Africa after the close of the St. Louis Fair, Benga lived in the United States, mostly in Virginia, for the rest of his life.
Displays of non-white humans as examples of “earlier stages” of human evolution were common in the early 20th century, when racial theories were frequently intertwined with concepts from evolutionary biology. African-American newspapers around the nation published editorials strongly opposing Benga’s treatment. Dr. R. S. MacArthur, the spokesperson for a delegation of black churches, petitioned New York City Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. for his release from the Bronx Zoo.
The mayor released Benga to the custody of Reverend James M. Gordon, who supervised the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum in Brooklyn and made him a ward. That same year Gordon arranged for Benga to be cared for in Virginia, where he paid for him to acquire American clothes and to have his teeth capped, so the young man could be more readily accepted in local society. Benga was tutored in English and began to work. Several years later, the outbreak of World War I stopped ship passenger travel and prevented his returning to Africa. This, as well as the poor treatment he was subjected to for most of his life, caused Benga to fall into a depression. He committed suicide in 1916 at the age of 32.
Linda Kay Kneeland, montana.edu // African American suffering and suicide under slavery – While the suffering of slaves in the antebellum American South is common knowledge, what is not so commonly known is the suicide rate among those slaves. How did slaves respond to the suffering they were forced to undergo? While some slaves did choose suicide, the rates appear to be surprisingly low. This is consistent with suicide rates for Africa and for people of African descent living in other areas of the world, and further supports the theory that a low suicide rate is an element of African culture. The overwhelming majority of African-American slaves chose to deal with their suffering through a variety of means, including resistance, external compliance and spirituality. When slaves did resort to suicide, it was apparently often in response to a deterioration in their circumstances or unfulfilled expectations. When the slaves developed dialog to address their suffering on an ideological level, they frequently did so through religious channels.
Igbo Landing – Wikipedia – Igbo Landing (alternatively written as Ibo Landing, Ebo Landing, or Ebos Landing) is a historic site at Dunbar Creek on St. Simons Island, Glynn County, Georgia. It was the setting of a mass suicide in 1803 by captive Igbo people who had taken control of their slave ship and refused to submit to slavery in the United States. The event’s moral value as a story of resistance towards slavery has symbolic importance in African American folklore and literary history.