In the decades leading up to the civil war, white Americans uncomfortable with the rising numbers of free blacks came up with a plan. Get rid of them. Specifically, convince them to resettle in Liberia. It was America's original "self-deportation" scheme. But things didn't go exactly according to plan.
When Dance Theatre of Harlem was forced to close its professional company in 2004, it was a blow to dance lovers around the country and to fans in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle had been a frequent stop during the company's 35-year history, attracting raves for its productions of classical ballets as well as contemporary work influenced by African and African-American cultural traditions. So it seems fitting that after Dance Theatre of Harlem re-started its company two years ago, then mounted its first national tour in 2012, Seattle would be on the itinerary.
Cover of Carver Clark Gayton's book, "Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clarke, During a Captivity of More than Twenty-Five Years, Among the Algerines of Kentucky, One of the So Called Christian States of North America."
When Carver Clark Gayton was growing up in Seattle in the 1940s he didn’t hear anything about African-American history in school. But his mother told him stories, including one about his great-grandfather Lewis George Clarke.
Clarke was an escaped slave and an abolitionist. His personal story found its way into the anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" that went on to become the second most popular book in the 19th century. It’s seen as one of the causes of the Civil War.