Thursday, February 5, 2015

Black Pirates Month


In many of the Commonwealth nations, namely the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, February is celebrated as "Black History Month." And the history of Piracy is an important part of the African Diaspora. Most of the well-known pirate captains of the Golden Age had significant numbers of Africans on their crews. Blackbeard's crew was at times up to sixty percent black.

Upon capturing a slave ship, many pirate captains invited the enslaved people on board to join their crews, usually with an equal vote and an equal share of the treasure. Many runaway slaves also turned pirate, as they were already "outlaws." Pirating was a good way to get paid while evading the authorities.

The chief difference between European and African pirates was this: when captured, European pirates were executed, while African pirates were usually sold or re-sold into slavery. We'll leave it to the reader to decide which fate was worse.

Many pirates of all ethnicities lived and died unsung, their names lost in the tide. But there are a number of black pirates we know by name, whose part in history must not be marginalized. This month we'll profile several historical black pirates in honor of Black History Month.

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