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David A. Love Contributes to “Four Hundred Souls"
Love, a part-time lecturer at SC&I, wrote a chapter for the new book “Four Hundred Souls” chronicling the history of the Royal African Company, an English slave-trading company.
Love, a part-time lecturer at SC&I, wrote a chapter for the new book “Four Hundred Souls” chronicling the history of the Royal African Company, an English slave-trading company.

SC&I Part-Time Lecturer David A. Love contributed to the new book “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” by writing a chapter about the Royal African Company, a British-owned slave-trading company which Love said was fundamental to England’s “infrastructure of human trafficking,” and it “supplied Africans to meet the labor demands of the lucrative sugar plantations.” 

It is essential to understand the Royal African Company, Love said, because in 1672 the RAC was granted a monopoly on the British slave trade between the African continent and the West Indies. As a result, he said, the RAC “was responsible for transporting more African people to the Americas than any other entity.” 

“The fact that I was able to combine the history with my own personal experiences made it fulfilling,” he said. “That’s how we make history interesting and relevant to people, by relating it to what they are experiencing today.”

“Four Hundred Souls” was published by Random Penguin House’s imprint One World and edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. The book is composed of contributions by 90 different authors who each wrote chapters about different five-year time periods of critical importance that have occurred during the 400-years since the first Africans were brought to America.

The book begins with a chapter explaining when and how the first Africans landed in The New World. Titled “Arrival,” it was written by Nikole Hannah-Jones and tells the history of the “twenty to thirty Angolans” who were sold to Englishmen in Africa and brought to Virginia in 1619 on the ship the White Lion. Though the White Lion’s arrival occurred one year before the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower, Hannah-Jones explains that the arrival of the White Lion is rarely told, while the landing of the Mayflower is taught as an integral event in American history. “If the Mayflower was the advent of American freedom, then the White Lion was the advent of American slavery,” Hannah-Jones writes in the chapter. 

Love said the RAC’s expanded role in the African continent enabled England to profit from the enslavement of people and the trading of goods such as gold, ivory, and redwood dye. Love said that England got involved in the transatlantic slave trade to benefit the British royal family. “Everything that’s happened since then, the trauma, murder, rape, forced labor, is because of a business deal,” Love said. “It made a small group of people, cities, and companies very wealthy.” 

“There’s a rich history of the African American experience that has been untold and these stories provide insights to what created this country,” Love said. “There is a perception that Black history is a side issue that really isn’t a part of American history – but you can’t separate the two.”

Although this topic was assigned to him by the book’s editors, Love said that his personal experiences helped him “relate to the subject matter in ways I hadn’t envisioned.” Love said he began the chapter by describing the lasting impact the slave trade had on English port cities such as Liverpool and Bristol. When he visited Liverpool in 1998, Love said he noticed the influence of the slave trade was apparent even in the city’s architecture: “African heads and figures are carved into buildings and adorn such structures as the town hall and the Cunard Building,” Love wrote. “The entrance to the Martins Bank (Barclays) Building features a relief by sculptor George Herbert Tyson Smith of two African boys shackled at the neck and ankles and carrying bags of money,” he continued. “It’s a reminder that Liverpool was built by slavers’ money.” 

“The fact that I was able to combine the history with my own personal experiences made it fulfilling,” he said. “That’s how we make history interesting and relevant to people, by relating it to what they are experiencing today.”

In the current context of racial injustice and inequity, Love said that “Four Hundred Souls” is important because many people are not taught about these stories.

“There’s a rich history of the African American experience that has been untold and these stories provide insights to what created this country,” Love said. “There is a perception that Black history is a side issue that really isn’t a part of American history – but you can’t separate the two.”

The final chapter of the book, “Black Lives Matter,” is written by Alicia Garza, who co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.

“History is particularly important when we understand it in the context of today,” Love said. “it’s difficult to solve problems that we are facing and build a better society today if we don’t understand how we got here in the first place.” 

At SC&I, Love teaches the Media and Community course, which he described as a “social justice journalism lab.” In the course, he teaches students about media from the standpoint of “poor communities, communities of color, issues of inequality, social justice, racial justice, and climate change.” Students use these skills to create projects using mediums such as social media, videos, writing, and investigative reporting.

“History is particularly important when we understand it in the context of today,” Love said. “it’s difficult to solve problems that we are facing and build a better society today if we don’t understand how we got here in the first place.” 

“This semester, we’ve been looking at free speech, information bubbles, misinformation, the rise of authoritarianism and fascism, media narratives, and how the media characterize certain groups,” he said.

As a journalist and author, Love said he often writes about social issues, politics, and inequality “from a historical point of view.” In 2002, he also contributed to the book “States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons,” by writing a chapter about the militarization of the police in the U.S. 

Love’s work as a journalist has been featured on many news outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Post. In addition to these outlets, he also writes for The Appeal, theGrio, Atlanta Black Star, BlackCommentator.com, and he is a member of the editorial collective of Global African Worker, which is “a web magazine, sponsored by the Global African Worker Institute, committed to a progressive, anti-imperialist and worker-centered approach to analyzing and addressing the questions and challenges facing workers of Africa and the Diasporas.” Read more about Love’s work on his website

Interesting in learning more about the Journalism and Media Studies major? Learn more on the School of Communication and Information website. 

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