Black Hands, Blue Seas Exhibit Reveals African American’s Nautical History
An exhibit exploring African American contributions to the nation’s maritime history opens at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. “Black Hands, Blue Seas: The Untold Maritime Stories of African Americans” features art, artifacts and documents, chronicling the origins of black maritime tradition which begins with boat-building traditions in Africa.
The exhibit sheds light on the often overlooked roles that African Americans played as fishermen, stevedores, merchant mariners, Coast Guard lifesavers, sailors and captains.
A few interesting facts learned at the exhibit: the abolitionist and author Frederick Douglass escaped slavery disguised as a sailor; wealthy captain and ship owner Paul Cuffee sponsored voyages taking freed slaves back to Africa; and escaped slave William B. Gould served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.
The exhibit originated in Connecticut’s Mystic Harbor and will be in Philadelphia for a year before traveling to the next port.