Enough is enough in the Miss-Lou

Published 11:58 pm Monday, October 1, 2007

Who’s Jim Bowie you asked? Jim Bowie was a “slave trader.”

As the thousands of T-shirts worn by African-Americans shouted out at the mass march and rally in Jena, La. and across the U.S. on Sept. 20, “enough is enough.”

This same sentiment of enough is enough is applicable to sanitized commemoration of local history and historical personalities in the Miss-Lou.

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Commemorating a sanitized Jim Bowie without presenting and educating the public of his trafficking and dealing in African captives for enslavement is a continuation of falsification and miss-education of history.

The 1796 Kentucky born Jim Bowie, like Andrew Jackson and others of that era, ill-gained wealth by “slave trading.” At age, 22 Jim Bowie and his brothers Resin P. and John J. Bowie were partners engaged in the business of buying and selling human captives force-brought directly from Africa, thereby breaking America’s law of 1808 prohibiting trafficking African captives.

The Bowie brothers’ ill-got Africans from the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte at his Galveston Island Texas enslavement-dealing depot. They bought pirated African captives from Jean Lafitte for a dollar a pound and force-brought them across the Sabine River where they sold them in Louisiana.

Historians report according to an account written by enslavement dealer John J. Bowie, from 1818 to 1820 the Bowie brothers realized $65,000 in profits from investing $1 a pound or an average of $140 per African.

“James, Resin and myself fitted out some small boats at the mouth of the Calcasieu River (in Louisiana) and went into the trade on shares….We first purchased 40 negroes from Jean Lafitte at the rate of $1 per pound, or an average of $140 for each Negro. We brought them into the limits of the United States” (Texas was not a state at the time).

Let the readers do the math! $140 per African divided into $65,000 profit.

Historian W. T. Block wrote, “Between the years of 1818 and 1820, Colonel James Bowie and his two brothers realized a $65,000 profit from transporting 1,500 illegal slaves, purchased from Jean Lafitte on Galveston Island.”

Sixteen years later Jim Bowie died a vicious death at the Alamo fighting Mexico in the interest of taking its Texas land and making it a slavery republic. Mexico prohibited slavery on its land.

Half-truth-tellers, Bowie commemorators using select amnesia will have us think him and his knife is worth more interpretive and commemorative memory than memory of 1,500 African humans.

Enough half-truth history in the Miss-Lou, especially Natchez and Vidalia is enough.

Ser Seshs AB HETER-C.M. BOXLEY is the founder and curator of Africa House Ya Providence Educultural Museum and Gallery Natchez.