Slave auction re-enactment draws crowd

“Please stand for something,” said Deyonte Austin as he stood on stage at Lazzaro Plaza, his arms and legs in shackles.

Austin, a junior majoring in music industry, was playing the role of a slave in the Black Student Assembly’s re-enactment of a slave auction on Thursday. The event was held in honor of Nakumbuka Day — dedicated to Africans who died on the Middle Passage — a route of the slave trade. About 1 to 2 million slaves died on the Middle Passage.

Remember · Deyonte Austin, a junior, speaks during a re-enactment of a slave auction, presented by the Black Student Assembly in honor of Nakumbuka Day. - Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

Remember · Deyonte Austin, a junior, speaks during a re-enactment of a slave auction, presented by the Black Student Assembly in honor of Nakumbuka Day. - Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

As he recited his speech on stage, Austin began to cry. He said after ward that re-enacting the role of a slave deeply moved him.

“For a second, I felt like I was actually in that position,” he said. “My grandfather used to tell me stories like this. He saw it … I could never forget.”

“Nakumbuka” translates to “I remember” in Swahili. The slave auction re-enactment was held to ensure people did remember — or, for those who had never heard of the day, to teach about the plight of slaves traveling from Africa.

The re-enactment drew in many passersby as Chris McAbery, a Caucasian male, led three black students — Austin, Rachel Brown and Brandi Vicks — from Tommy Trojan to Lazzaro Plaza.

Austin, Brown and Vicks, playing the role of slaves, wore shackles around their necks and were tied together in a line. They wore dirty, ripped clothes and hung their heads as they walked.

McAbery led the three slaves onto a stage. He displayed them each individually, and then each spoke — Austin recited a poem about slavery, Vicks detailed the horrors of the Middle Passage and Brown spoke as if she were a slave who was making the journey.

About 30 people were gathered at Lazzaro Plaza when the re-enactment began; many more stopped to see what was happening and stayed to hear the speeches.

“It was definitely eye-catching,” said Gabe Suranyi, a senior majoring in business administration, who had never heard of Nakumbuka Day before. “It was a good idea.”

Eye-catching is precisely what the BSA was aiming for. Though it has held memorials for Nakumbuka Day in past years, Tirsa St. Fort, executive director of BSA said the group had hoped to stage an event that would draw people in.

“We were going for people who might not have heard of it,” she said. “The speakers were intense — it caught attention. It was a lot different.”

The event was intense for those who participated, as well.

“I got a couple of dirty looks,” said McAbery, a junior majoring in economics. “But I remembered it’s for a good cause.”

8 replies
  1. Gideon Nast
    Gideon Nast says:

    Slavery is mark upon this nation like nothing else. However, global warming is going to kill us all if we don’t stop all these toxic emissions now!

  2. Ronnie Mays
    Ronnie Mays says:

    America’s dark and evil slave trade past must be showcased so that it is never forgotten. But I think efforts need to be focused on what is really important. GLOBAL WARMING! Did you know we have just 54 days left to SAVE OUR PLANET. We need Cap and Trade now. If you want to stand for something. Stand for a carbon neutral future. Stand for shutting down the capitalism that is killing our Mother – the earth. The USC Greek system, made up of the spoiled kids of rich white capitalist America — the ones who owned slaves, emits the most carbon of any group at USC. They have parties all night and leave the lights on 24 hours a day. they also use air conditioning and leave their front doors wide open – air conditioning the street I guess? I want to be the first concerned student at USC to stand up and demand that we – SHUT THE GREEK SYSTEM DOWN NOW. Slavery is important but not as important as global warming. Wake up USC! Wake up America.

    • Joe
      Joe says:

      Thanks, I needed a laugh!
      We also need to pass OBAMACARE and let’s not forget about THE MONEY WE COULD BE SAVING WITH GEICO!

    • JB
      JB says:

      Hey, hold on a second…the lights are off between the hours of 7am and 1pm when they sleep off the previous nights party. Come on, get a clue. Without the money coming in from the parents of these folks USC wouldn’t be the powerhouse university that it is today. You’re funny, thanks.

    ONTIME says:

    Slavery consist of not being able to get a education, comprehend information intelligently and apply it to getting a real job.

    “Life is tough, it’s even tougher if your stupid.” …..JW

  4. Thite D. Starr
    Thite D. Starr says:

    I saw this on an old Dave Chappelle show and it was quite entertaining. You have to love that Charlie Murphy.

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