EJI Releases New Report on the Transatlantic Slave Trade


Human Pictures

Today, EJI releases the newest report in our series on the history of racial injustice. The Transatlantic Slave Trade traces the history of enslavement back to 1501, when Europeans started kidnapping and trafficking African people to the Americas.

Over the 365 years that followed, European and American traffickers forced nearly 13 million African people to endure the agonizing Middle Passage across the Atlantic Ocean.

At least two million people died during the voyage. Millions survived the traumatic journey only to find themselves trapped in a violent, race-based system of brutal bondage that enslaved their children at birth.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade is one of the most violent, traumatizing, and horrific eras in world history—but too few people have confronted this history truthfully.

And few Americans have acknowledged how coastal communities in the U.S. from New England to New Orleans were permanently shaped by the trafficking of African people and the generational wealth it created.

Our latest report explores the origins of the myth of racial difference—a narrative of racial inferiority that defined Black people as less human than white people.

Rooted in the need to justify genocide and enslavement, this belief in racial hierarchy survived slavery’s abolition, fueled racial terror lynchings, demanded legally codified segregation, and continues to haunt our nation.

At our Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and in our series of reports on racial justice, we follow the myth of racial difference and its legacy from enslavement to mass incarceration.