2011-09-01 / Letters to the Editor

Much more to the story of farm’s walls

I just read Margo Sullivan’s article about Watson Farm (Aug. 11, 2011: “Watson Farm reveals a historic stone wall along North Road”) and her wonderment of the stone walls that she finds so “charming,” not only in Jamestown but all around our state.

Well the real truth to their “charming” appearance is that they were built by slaves. Robert Frost’s “backbone of the land” should have read, “Slavery was backbone of the land.” Newport, Jamestown, South Kingston and Providence, and many other areas in Rhode Island, were supported by a slave culture. And what do you do with all those slaves? You put them to work to keep their minds off running away.

If caught, you were put in a pen with all the other slaves. Did you know our same “forefather islanders” penned up runaway slaves and Native Americans? Yes, blacks weren’t the only people of color that were enslaved. The result of that mixing of Africans and Native Americans can be seen in areas of South Kingston to this day.

Did you know one such “runaway” garrison was on Jamestown? If you care to look, you will find it – it was right under your noses (and surrounded by a beautiful stone wall). My nose smells more “fairytale history” by people unwilling to look for the real truths of how this land was formed and what they did to people of color to make it so, and to recognize those peoples’ contribution to what makes this state great.

So I can suppose the walls do look beautiful, but as a person of color, I look at those walls and they make me cry for all the suffering and pain that went into building them. I guess it’s true what they say about history. Whoever gets to write it down first, it becomes HIS-story. If that’s the case, please tell Ms. Sullivan what a great job she did. It was a great story.

Kenneth Southern
Clinton Avenue

Return to top