This fall, All Souls will embark on a journey that no other UU congregation has ever ventured. Some of the congregants of African descent will journey to Ghana, West Africa. Many traveling on the trip have ancestors who were captives of the Atlantic Slave Trade. It’s not a vacation, nor a service trip, but a cathartic journey. I feel honored to be a part of such a rich experience.
Planning for the journey has stirred many questions within me. What is life like for people enslaved? How many people realize that human trafficking is just the new name of slavery? What is the life of an abolitionist? These questions and so many more surface for me but the one that remains is the latter--what was life like for an American abolitionist during slavery? Not just for well-known abolitionists like John Brown but for the unsung agents of positive change. It’s something that I’ve never thought about until now. But having pondered it, the life of an abolitionist must have been quite difficult. Abolitionists were silhouettes in the dark. They stealthily led many black Americans to freedom. To do this, some abolitionists lived double lives, infiltrating the unjust society of slavery from within. For some, being a part of the Underground Railroad meant posing as a slave owner or going to slave auctions and purchasing freedom, all in the guise of buying servitude. Moving with such strides requires a great level of inner cultivation, evolution, and strength. There must be a deeper understanding of playing the part of a slave owner but not being a slave owner. This is the untold story of many abolitionists: a life without the expectation of fanfare or applause. This is a life worth living.