Video: Dr. Francis On Mary Prince Voyage

July 1, 2022 | 2 Comments

Local students will sail through history as they travel to Turks & Caicos aboard the Spirit of Bermuda in a trip entitled ‘In the Wake of Mary Prince,’ which will include lessons and perspectives from Bermudian historian Dr. Theodore Francis.

The students depart soon, and Dr Francis said that over the next two weeks, he will be sharing Mary Prince’s history of resistance against enslavement, and explorations of Bermuda history that help students get a wider appreciation for not only the history and society of Bermuda and the ways in which Bermuda is connected to the broader Caribbean world.

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Dr. Francis — a Bermudian who is the Associate Professor of History at Huston–Tillotson University in Austin, Texas — explained to Bernews that, “This is a historical exploration of enslavement and mobility and society, as well as trade and social relations.

“We’re using the story of Mary Prince, an enslaved Black Bermudian woman who was born in Bermuda, transported to Turks and Caicos, returned back to Bermuda, transported to Antigua, and then eventually travels to England…

He noted she was then “successful in getting her story, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave published by members of the anti-slavery society in 1831.

Dr Theodore Francis Bermuda June 29 2022

“A groundbreaking feat, not only simply because of her ability to report her story at this time, but also to give insight and lend a hand to the burgeoning abolitionist movement or anti-slavery movement of the 19th century.

“It’s even more significant given the fact that it is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, slave narrative written by a Black woman in the 19th century,

“However, to zoom in a little bit more closely, recognizing Mary Prince as a Black Bermudian woman, it is useful to follow in her footsteps and try and understand the reason where she can teach us historical lessons about enslavement in Bermuda, about white society in Bermuda, about global trade.

“What I think is beautiful is Mary Prince might be remarkable, however, her experience is not unusual. And for the next two weeks as we travel on the sloop, the Spirit of Bermuda from Bermuda to the island of Turks and Caicos with approximately 17 students who have the opportunity to engage in lessons, sharing readings from her book, explorations of Bermuda history that highlight these factors and help students get a wider appreciation for not only the history and society of Bermuda through the eyes of a Black Bermudian enslaved woman, but also the ways in which Bermuda is connected to the broader Caribbean world.”

“Bermuda is not another world, Bermuda was firmly a part of making the West Indies and even making the wider Atlantic networks of trade, not just simply in codfish and in salt, but also in enslaved human beings, and what type of legacy does that mean for Bermudians, not simply Black Bermudians, but for all Bermudians?

“So over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing with students as we travel from Bermuda to Turks and Caicos, Mary Prince’s history of resistance against enslavement, the ways in which Bermuda was a pioneer in the making of enslavement, not just simply here on this island colony, but also in the wider Atlantic world.”

Dr Francis added, “In the Wake of Mary Prince is an opportunity not just to explore a book, hopefully we can do that through the library, but it’s also an opportunity to be embedded in a context of sailing training on the Spirit of Bermuda sloop so that students can learn about the actual skillsets, as well as the courage it took to brave the Atlantic, to move to new places, but also some of the legacies of the more problematic aspects of maritime trade and Bermuda’s history of maritime trade.”

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Comments (2)

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  1. Greetings Sir/Madam,

    I wish to contact Dr. Francis via his business email and/or telephone number concerning Mary Prince. Can you please furnish me with them?

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Respectfully,

    Peggy Burns

  2. Positive Vibes says:

    Thank you Dr. Francis for sharing such valuable history. God bless everyone on the Spirit of Bermuda with a safe journey.

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