In a 1989 interview the Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, speaking of the lack of any commemoration of the lives of slaves, said, "There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There's no 300-foot tower, there's no small bench by the road."
There is now.
This past weekend, on Sullivan's Island off the coast of South Carolina, Ms Morrison, along with a number of other people, celebrated the dedication of a simple bench looking out on the intracoastal waterway, placed there with a plaque commemorating those enslaved Africans -- about 40% of the total -- who entered this country through Sullivan's Island, as well as those who died during the Middle Passage. The bench was placed there through a joint effort of the Toni Morrison Society and the National Park Service. It's the first in a projected total of ten benches the society hopes to locate in various parts of the country that are significant either because of their place in African-American history or because of their importance in Toni Morrison's books.
As Toni Morrison commented last Saturday, "...the bench is welcoming, open, you can be illiterate and sit on the bench. You can be wandering, or on a search."
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