Negro House at Sierra Leone, from an 18th Century engraving
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Victoria Smurro

What an Honor it is…

"Good evening, my name is Victoria Smurro.  I am a sophomore at Narragansett High School in Rhode Island.  I was raised in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina but relocated to Narragansett two years ago. My world history class, taught by Ms. Gina Giramma who is here with me tonight, recently got involved in Project Priscilla.

  For the past few months we have been studying the tragic history of Priscilla and her connection with Newport, Rhode Island, a neighboring seafaring town that was involved in the Atlantic slave trade.  The link between Rhode Island and South Carolina was significant in the lives of Ball plantation slaves, particularly Priscilla, who was brought here via the “Hare,” a ship owned by the Vernon brothers of Newport.

  Most people still do not associate the trafficking of slaves with the northeast part of the United States, but we know the connection is clear.  Although we cannot erase this horrible part in our history, we can surely learn and educate others about the unjust treatment of African slaves in America.

In closing, I would like to say what an honor it is to be here tonight to meet Mrs. Thomalind Martin Polite and, in a small way, to contribute to the efforts to reunite her with her ancestral homeland.  I would also like to thank Professor Joseph Opala, who was the driving force in educating Narragansett High School students about Priscilla’s story. Lastly, thank you Edward Ball for your compelling documentation of slave life here in the low country of South Carolina.