Unzoo

Today we’d have cycled along a river from Rovaniemi to Ranua, where there is a zoo. I’m not fond of zoos ever since I went to one in San Diego in blistering heat and watched the polar bears suffer in their cage. 

I cycled up from Bethany Beach northward to the hospital in Lewes where my 96 year old mom had a minor surgery today. She’s caged in her “zoo” where I can’t visit her right now. I decided I’d see how many animals NOT in zoos I could spot on my bike ride today. 

  • a roadkill deer in a truck 
  • redwinged blackbird
  • sea gulls
  • butterflies
  • geese 
  • herons
  • squirrels
  • dragonflies
  • at least two dead turtles

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In a leap to unfree beings not in zoos, I started my day by listening to a reading by Jonathon Jones of excerpts from Frederick Douglass’ July 4 speech delivered on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, N.Y. The reading was hosted by the Underground Railroad Education Center that we visited last June on our Underground Railroad ride. Paul Stewart, co-founder of this vibrant organization, took us in out of the rain, pulled a lovely lunch for us out of a sack, and patiently and quietly, explained Albany’s role in the Underground Railroad. On the organization’s website, there is an illuminating piece written by Mr. Stewart on the language of freedom. There is not yet a link to Jones’ reading but I found this link to a passionate reading of excerpts by young descendants of Douglass. The title of the oration sets the tone: “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

While we were there, we noticed an unusual piece of art propped up in a corner.

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This work commemorates the extraordinary culmination of the accidental finding of bones while a sewer was being dug. The bones turned out to be those of 14 enslaved people who were essentially discarded at the end of their lives. Over a period of more than a decade, numerous people in several walks of life worked together to finally bring dignity and honor to this group of dead people. They were reburied in a solemn and deeply meaningful ceremony. I cried when I watched this. (Thanks to David Goodrich for sharing both of these links.)

On the topic of the institution of slavery, I stumbled on an eye-opening 2018 documentary while digging deeply on the Pearl escape. When the “passengers” on the Pearl were returned to Washington, they were marched to the D. C. Jail, passing by the slave pen of James Gannon on the way. I wanted to know more about this person so I googled him. Instead of the James Gannon of the slave pen, I learned about a different James Gannon, a descendant of Robert E. Lee. A Moral Debt: The Legacy of Slavery in the United States, documents James Gannon’s very personal exploration of the long-term fallout of his ancestor’s ownership of human beings. It’s 48 minutes long, worth every minute to me.

©2020 Lynnea C Salvo

 

 

 


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