Matilda McCrear: The Last Survivor of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Sun, April 11, 2021

Matilda McCrear: The Last Survivor of the Transatlantic Slave Trade


The transatlantic slave trade, which existed from the 16th to the 19th centuries, involved the transportation by slave traders of enslaved African people, mainly to the Americans. While racism and discrimination prohibited people of color from living with freedom and dignity, many Africans still tried to fight the system that abused them. One of them was Matilda McCrear, who was the last surviving slave captured in Africa.


Credits: All That's Interesting


McCrear was captured in West Africa when she was two years old. After arriving in Alabama in 1860, she was sold to a wealthy plantation owner called Memorable Creagh along with her mother Grace and sister Sallie. All of them were separated. While they attempted to escape their situation, they were immediately recaptured. In 1865, the transatlantic slave trade was abolished. However, McCrear’s family had no choice but to work as sharecroppers and remain in their place. 


Credits: All That's Interesting


Racism was so evident during those times that her demand for compensation for her enslavement fell on deaf ears. When she married a white German-born man, with whom she had 14 children, McCrear decided to not change her surname and retained her sense of cultural identity. “Even though she left West Africa when she was a toddler, she appears throughout her life to have worn her hair in a traditional Yoruba style, a style presumably taught to her by her mother,” researcher Hannah Durkin said. 


Credits: All That's Interesting


According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, McCrear’s grandson, Johnny Crear, 83, said these revelations are both shocking and inspiring to him. “This fills in a lot of the holes that we have about her. From the day the first African was brought to this continent as a slave, we’ve had to fight for freedom. It doesn’t surprise me that she was so rebellious. It’s refreshing to know she had the kind of spirit that’s uplifting,” he said. 




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