Essay Slaves In The Family Edward Ball
Freed at age 10 from the Limerick plantation, Martin kept up a long association with the Ball family, to the extent of sending sentimental letters to his former owners about his childhood in slavery.
"As long as there are Balls, I will have mistresses and masters," he wrote in 1933, at age 77.
around to the consensus that slavery was a crime against humanity, and so it was.
The families of former slaveholders are not responsible for the past in the way a criminal is culpable for a crime.
As a child of two Deep South cities—Charleston and New Orleans—Ball has intimate knowledge of the topics he writes about.
His first book is about his father’s family, and the one he’s writing now is about a member of his mother’s family; in between, he wrote four other nonfiction books.
“During the whole weekend,” Ball says, “we told stories about our ancestors, but said nothing about the 4,000 black people that we had enslaved. I thought it was a little late in the day for a white-only memory of slavery.”Ball returned to New York determined to tell the story of his family’s past from both perspectives, black and white.
He quit his job at the and moved to Charleston, where he dove into the 10,000 or so pages of Ball family records.
This past fall, he wrote a review of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, DC, for the .
He likes this new Smithsonian museum, the 19th, though he ends with mild criticism of its “four winds of feel-good creativity,” referring to the Culture Galleries, “a festival of black dance, spoken word, song, and clothes.” Then the broader conclusion: “The nation does not have a museum of slavery.
But I suspect that many black people do not want a museum of slavery.
One sometimes hears declarations like this: Our family were immigrants, and we came to America after the Civil War.
We had nothing to do with slavery, which had already been abolished.