By Kristina Chambers
The late 1700s and early 1800s was a time of great change in American society. During this time period, a part of society was advocating for the abolition of the slave trade. Influential authors, such as Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano, sparked the abolition movement as they give account to a time where individuals were forced into labor which many people today do not want to recognize or acknowledge.
Thomas Clarkson, author of The History of the Rise, Progress, & Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave- Trade by the British Parliament, was considered a hero of the abolition movement. Clarkson wrote passionately about the lives of slaves and the horrors they face. In his work, Clarkson describes a time many will never fully understand. Across many nations, people had been forced to subordinate others after being stripped from resources that could possibly make them superior. “The old have been butchered, because unfit for slavery, and the young have been carried off,” Clarkson attests. Readers are invoked with emotions of despair and can doubt their own morals as he questions the judgement of the very people supposedly capable of governing entire societies. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, written by Equiano himself, give a first person account of the terrible wrongs done to slaves. This perspective can especially appeal to a reader’s pathos because they can gain insight from an actual slave as he describes how he was snatched from his home at just 10 years old and spent a better part of his life consistently being sold and used like an object. It can be said that the point of these writers was to find a way to shed light on the undoubtful wrong toward a group of people based solely on the color of their skin. By writing, Clarkson and Equiano can use vivid description and rhetoric in order to get points across in relation to the mistreatment toward fellow human beings.
In the media today, Black Lives Matter can be seen as comparable to the movement toward the abolition of slavery Clarkson depicted. BLM is more than just a movement against violence and racism towards black people. Part of its purpose is to educate those who may be oblivious to or do not understand the struggles black people face that is so deeply incorporated into the system. Although no one is technically a slave, black people are discriminated against and withheld from opportunities just as slaves were. Advocates of BLM also want a change that can only be obtained once everyone can uncover their subconscious biases and general misconceptions about a race or ethnicity. Daily, black people are subjected to wrongdoings including police brutality, racial profiling, and unlawful imprisonment. Underlying this campaign toward justice is the yearning for the elimination of everyday inequity. It’s about upheaving the entire system from the inside because even though from the outside looking in, things may seem equal, those who are subjected to the injustices experience first hand that racism still exists.