Meet The Slavery Detective Of The South

by Yah Yah

Slavery did not end when the history books say it did. Slavery might have ended on paper after the Civil War, but many white landowners did everything they could to exploit newly freed slaves well into the 20th century. Thousands of black laborers across the South were forced to work against their will as late as the 1960s—a new form of enslavement that went on in the shadows of rural America.

In this new VICE documentary, Akil Gibbons meets genealogist Antoinette Harrell dubbed the “slavery detective of the South,” who tracks down cases of modern-day slavery and abusive labor practices. Gibbons was born and raised in Lousiana. She studies newspaper clippings, old FBI reports and even receives phone calls, giving her leads for her work.

During this short documentary, they talk to a man whose family was held on a plantation against their will into the 1950s, and Antoinette explains how she uses decades-old records to uncover how slavery was perpetuated long after the Civil War ended.

Quite often, non-Blacks try to play down the history of slavery and despite evidence of the trade, many refuse to admit America’s dark history. But with people like Gibbon’s exposing the hidden history, it gets harder to turn a blind eye to it. We have been oppressed for far longer than they care to admit…

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