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BSU “Tunnel of Oppression” Event 1: Reenactment of a Slave Auction

BSU “Tunnel of Oppression” Event 1: Reenactment of a Slave Auction

This week the Black Student Union (BSU) is putting on a series of events for Black Week.

In addition to evening events every day at 2 o’clock there is a Tunnel of Oppression event. Each Tunnel of Oppression event focuses on a different theme.

The theme for today was slavery. Outside the Shaw in the amphitheater the BSU did a reenactment of a slave auction. Seven black students and faculty were brought out chained in a line and stood in the amphitheater. A white male played the role of the auctioneer. Two of the participants were auctioned off. The first was auctioned for 15 dollars and the other for 10. During the auctioneering process the auctioneer kept repeating “for a human life” which made the message of the event sink in.

In addition to the reenactment, two readers told about the history of slavery in what is now the United States. In the beginning, African people, like Irish, German, English, and Scottish people, were indentured servants in the American Colonies. Indentured servants worked for a certain period of time and then were released from service. Many people were indentured servants in order to pay for their passage to the colonies.

The story of John Punch was shared at the event. In 1640 John Punch and two other indentured servants ran away from Virginia where they were indentured. All three were unsuccessful in their escape. John Punch, who was black, was whipped and made a slave. The other two indentured servants, they were white, received whippings and then were forced to extend their indentured servant status 4 more years.

In 1705 Virginia introduced what came to be called the Slave Codes. The Slave Codes declared slaves were property and if they died while being punished, there were zero legal repercussions.

The horrific punishments used on slaves were also discussed. If a slave was punished by whipping it was common to have their wounds reopened and have substances rubbed into the wounds that increased the pain such as red pepper. Some slaves were also forced to wear collars which at times had spikes pointed inward. Other forms of punishment included forcing slaves to wear metal masks, using thumb screws and  cotton screws. Also, physical mutilation and sexual assault were another heinous punishments.

It was also shared that, according to Forbes,  in the 84 year time span from 1776-1860 the labor costs from slavery, if paid today, would be 1.75 trillion dollars.

Each day this week at 2 o’clock BSU is putting on a Tunnel of Oppression event. Check the TVs for the location of the event. Tomorrow (Tuesday) the event will start at the Shaw Amphitheater and will be about the Underground Railroad and the Emancipation Proclamation. In addition, there are other BSU Black Week events happening in the evenings as well. Check the TVs for times and locations for these events also.

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About Katherine Gardner

Hi I'm a senior studying History, Spanish, and International Studies! I love eating chocolate, watching movies, and hanging out with friends.

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