Since I met Joseph Opala and Amadu Massaly in 2006, when I was first really introduced to Bunce Island in Sierra Leone, efforts to preserve and stabilize its Slave Castle has become one of my passions. As I learned more about its history during the slave trade, I also got to learn about the connection between Sierra Leone and the Low Country of the United States, centered in South Carolina and Georgia.
The ‘Black Poor’ was the name given in the late 18th century to poor residents of London who were of Black ancestry. The Black Poor had diverse origins. Historians estimate that the black population of London was between 5,000 and 10,000 in the late eighteenth century. While Great Britain was reaping profits from its involvement in the slave trade, a black community grew in London during this time. Concerns were raised about black people living in London as early as 1596, when Queen Elizabeth I complained about ‘Blackamoores’ cluttering up the streets of the kingdom, and issued a Royal Proclamation ordering the removal of “those kind of people”. There is no evidence that the Queen’s orders were carried out and the black community continued to flourish around Mile End and Paddington.
Chief Michael Grizzle, Mayor Glendon Harris, Madam Minister Kadija Seisay, Members of the Trelawny Town Community, Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you greetings from your brothers and sisters of the Krio Descendants Union Global family in the United States, Canada, England and especially from the parent body in Freetown, Sierra Leone.