Forks of the Road Memorial

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The author, Deborah Young respectfully honors all of the souls sold into slavery in Natchez, Mississippi.  The author recalls growing up in Natchez with an inkling of ill ease and surrounded by a constant heavy air of eeriness.  The author learned years later that Natchez was indeed, built upon the commercializing of human beings.  In Natchez, Mississippi, the selling of human beings afforded scores of individuals, lavish lifestyles, in the midst of atrocious mansions, recognized as antebellum homes. 

Deborah Young, Visual Poet has discovered her ancestral maternal genetic link to the Mende people of Sierra Leone, West Africa and paternal genetic link to the Ashanti (Asante) people of Ghana. 

Hundreds of thousands of the Mende were enslaved during the 16th and 18th century and transported to the United States, Caribbean and South America.  The Akan-Ashanti (Asante) people were the earliest enslaved Africans brought to South Carolina in 17th century by Barbados colonists.  Unfortunately, the powerful and regimented Ashanti (Asante) Empire sold their people into slavery and played a major role in the Atlantic Slave Trade.

The Mende and other enslaved Africans arrived in one of two slave ports; Savannah, Georgia or Charleston, South Carolina.  On March 2-3, 1859 the largest slave sale in United States history was held at a Savannah, Georgia racetrack.  Due to the devastating anguish of the enslaved human beings and relentless rain; the two day event was called The Weeping Time

The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation Did Nothing To Assure Equal Rights For Blacks, So, To Stamp Out Ongoing Racism And Segregation, Numerous Natchez Citizens Participated In The 1950s, 1960s Civil Rights Movement:  Rev. Shead Baldwin, Wharlest Jackson, George Metcalfe, James Henry Young Sr., Deacons for Defense and Justice, Mary Toles, etc...

Deborah Young is the first and only writer to honor human beings sold into slavery at the Natchez, Mississippi historical site, with visual poetry, poem, stage play and screenplay.  The author's poem, etc, was written to pay tribute to the precious souls whose lives were annihilated because of greed, trolling at the Forks of the Road.



Visual Poetry Image




Deacons for Defense and Justice Bust on Stand 

Deacons for Defense and Justice; Civil Rights Warriors; Brothers Badass Bold Visual Poem


...Deacons for Defense and Justice, firm objectors of bigoted oppression

Deacons for Defense and Justice, legitimate advocates for integration

The almighty Deacons for Defense and Justice, dependable defenders of truth

Deacons, fuh true, respect and appreciation for you is overdue

Your undying sacrifices and dedication justifies a listin' in the Who's Who

Deacons, I salute you with absolute, steadfast reverence, true-blue

For, your audacity permitted us a peaceful setting, in which to abide

So, a bust on a stand exalts the DDJ, Deacons, gentlemen, forever, dignified


Copyright by Deborah Young

An Excerpt from Deacons for Defense and Justice; Civil Rights Warriors; Brothers Badass Bold



Visual Poetry Image

Forks of the Road Visual Poem - Urn for Tears



Visual Poetry Image

Forks of the Road Visual Poem - Historical Marker


Forks of the Road Historical Marker


...somberly, one by one

Steps dragged and unfold

Dragged and unfold

They were chained in pair

A coffle thoroughfare

Many died, others made it, barely alive

Legs, bleeding and bowed

In pens, all, forcibly flowed 

Many lives were forever altered

Altered with Bought and Sold

Bought and Sold

Feel the anguish

As spirits stir and moan

And, salty tears, they, unload...

Copyright 2001 by Deborah Young

An Excerpt from Forks of the Road


The author, Deborah Young wrote the poem The Coffle Song in the Gullah dialect and translated in English.  The poem recalls the awful experiences of those ripped from their families, linked in chains, coffles and sold into slavery.














...Dese lines, dey iz mean trubble tuh b'hitch 'pun

Eb'ry sun'up tuh sundown, us iz jine'up 'n ju'k along

Yuh de chains stuhr, loud 'n strong

Us freedum, us freedum, 'e jis' clean, done gon'

Tuh 'nodduh, nodduh, us soon, b'long

Dis iz sho' 'nuf, sho' 'nuf, wrong

Us ain't got nutt'n, nutt'n, tuh mek us own

Cep'm dese wu'd us moan 'n groan, een dishyuh song...

Copyright by Deborah Young

An Excerpt from The Coffle Song


                                        These lines, they are mean trouble to be hitched upon

                                        Every sunrise to sunset, we are joined up and jerked along

                                        Hear the chains stirring, loud and strong

                                        Our freedom, our freedom, it's just clean, done gone

                                        To another, another, we soon, belong

                                        This is sure enough, sure enough, wrong

                                        We have nothing, nothing, to make our own 

                                        Except these words, we moan and groan, in this here song...

                                        Copyright by Deborah Young

                                        An Excerpt from The Coffle Song

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it went into effect January 1, 1863: 

That on the 1st day of January A.D. 1863,

all persons held as slaves within any state...

shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free...

The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment initiated the freedom of enslaved African Americans.  However, it was the numerous African Americans who continuously fought to assure freedom, equal rights and racial harmony. 

Even, many years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Natchez Blacks continued to suffer as a result of racism, segregation and the lack of civil rights.  Therefore, countless Natchez citizens and local leaders participated in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s; Rev. Shead Baldwin, Wharlest Jackson, George Metcalfe, James Henry Young, Sr., Deacons for Defense and Justice, Mary Toles, and numerous other individuals. 

“I was all of 11 years old and daddy said I could join a Natchez Civil Rights march.  As I positioned with my sister, brother and other marchers, I felt excited but scared.  But I felt pretty safe because my daddy, James Young, was an active member of Deacons for Defense and Justice.  The Deacons surrounded us and daddy walked beside me and my siblings.  As we marched and sang “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”; protesters yelled, threw things and pushed against us.  The Deacons confronted the protesters and got the situation under control.” Deborah Young, Daughter of a Deacon for Defense and Justice, Natchez, Mississippi

The Deacons for Defense and Justice were a 1960s armed self defense civil rights organization that played a vitally intricate part in the Civil Rights Movement.  There is no doubt that in Natchez, Mississippi, the Deacons for Defense and Justice tirelessly paved the way for equal rights for African Americans.  The Deacons intervened where local, state and federal government was grossly inadequate and negligent.  The Deacons for Defense and Justice were truly men of valor, freedom warriors; determined to neutralize terrorism, stamp out segregation and inequality.

It was the diligent hard work of constant marches, boycotts, legal actions, etc., which ultimately, lead to the 1967 integration of Natchez Adams County public schools.  

American Slavery and The Forks of the Road 


Many participated in the Atlantic slave trade; Portuguese, Dutch, British, French, Danish, Swedish, Americans and others. 


Between 1650 and 1860 millions of enslaved Africans were transported from west and central Africa.  Enslaved Africans were shipped to North America; most were sent to the West Indies, Central America and South America. 


In 1808 Congress made it illegal to bring additional enslaved Africans into the United States. Yet, the smuggling of enslaved Africans was maintained until the mid 1800's. And, slave trading in the United States continued until Emancipation Day in 1863.


The first slaves were brought to the Mississippi area in 1719; most were Caribbean Creoles


Large numbers of enslaved Jamaican-born African Caribbean were transported to the Natchez area by British slave traders between 1763 and 1779


Slave trading at the Natchez, Mississippi Forks of the Road site began during the early1800s


During years 1820 through 1860, enslaved Africans in Natchez came from the American Upper South regions.


The Forks of the Road was named as such, because the marketing of those enslaved actually took place where three thoroughfares actually did intersect, Liberty Road, St. Catherine Street and D'Evereaux Drive 


Prior to the sale of human beings at the Forks of the Road site, souls were sold in Natchez, Mississippi on every street corner, the Adams County Courthouse, auction houses and Natchez Under-The-Hill


Many, many were enslaved in Natchez, Mississippi; Ibrahima African prince, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield the Black Swan, first U.S. black concert singer, Wilson Brown awarded Union Congressional Medal of Honor, Jane Lindo, Rev. George Lindo founder of the Lower Woodville Road Zion Hill Baptist Church, Natchez, Mississippi, Agnes Lindo, etc   


The Forks of the Road was the second largest slave trading site in the south


President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862, it went into effect January 1, 1863


The marketing of souls at the Forks of the Road site ceased July, 1863; when Union troops occupied Natchez, Mississippi


The Forks of the Road site was transformed into a refuge for hundreds of once enslaved African-Americans.  The majority of the males joined the Union forces.


The 13th amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified December 6, 1865. 


Now, each year Juneteenth, June 19th is honored as Emancipation Day, by African Americans all over the United States.  In Natchez, Mississippi, The Forks of the Road site is the central part of all Juneteenth celebrations. 


The U. S. Postal Service has created postage stamps to honor the African Americans right to freedom and the tireless efforts of  those who addressed racism, segregation, civil rights, etc.  75th anniversary of the 13th amendment of the U. S. Constitution stamp, Harriet Tubman stamp, Carter G. Woodson stamp, Sojourner Truth stamp, Martin Luther King, Jr. stamp, A. Philip Randolph stamp, Thurgood Marshall stamp, Ida B. Wells stamp, Roy Wilkins stamp, Mary McLeod Bethune stamp, Whitney Moore Young stamp, Ralph Bunche stamp, Booker T. Washington stamp, Frederick Douglass stamp, James Weldon Johnson stamp. 



U. S. Postal Service

African American Stamps



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Copyright laws does, protect Deborah Young's works; therefore, they may not be used, copied, distributed, etc., without written, notarized permission from Deborah Young.  Please respect Deborah Young's copyrights so as to avoid swift, costly, legal actions.  Contact Visual Poet