Black Pirates and the Tale of Black Caesar

Model Pirate Ship with fog and water

During the ”golden age” of piracy in the late 1600s and early 1700s, a pirate ship was one of the few places a black man could attain power and money in the Western Hemisphere. Some of these black pirates were fugitive slaves in the Caribbean or other coastal areas of the Americas. Others joined pirate crews when their slave ships or plantations were raided; it was often an easy choice between perpetual slavery and freedom through lawlessness. It is estimated that up to one-third of the 10,000 pirates during the golden age of piracy were former slaves. While many were still mistreated and forced to do the lowest tasks aboard ship, some captains established revolutionary equality among their men, regardless of race. On these ships, black pirates could vote, bear arms, and receive an equal share of the booty. Back on the mainland, however, justice for black and white pirates was not equal. White pirates were usually hanged, but black pirates were often returned to their owners or otherwise resold into slavery—a fate worse than death for some.

One of the most famous black pirates was Black Caesar, who raided ships in the Florida Keys for almost a decade before joining Blackbeard aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Like many pirates, his life is shrouded in legend, but he was apparently a very large and very cunning man. Many accounts state that he was an African chieftain who had evaded capture by slavers several times before succumbing to a cruel deception. Aboard the slave ship, he was befriended by a sailor who gave him food and water. As they neared the Florida coast, a hurricane provided the confusion the two needed for an armed escape on a rowboat, and they were evidently the only survivors of the storm. For several years thereafter, the pair amassed a considerable fortune by posing as shipwrecked sailors and violently robbing vessels that offered them assistance. They allegedly buried their bounty on Elliott Key. Black Caesar was eventually able to hire on more crew and began attacking ships on the open sea. It is said that he kept a prison camp and possibly a harem of kidnapped women in the Keys but often failed to leave his captives with provisions during his voyages, and many starved to death. In the early 1700s he joined Blackbeard‘s crew as his lieutenant and was there for Blackbeard’s death at the hands of Lieutenant Robert Maynard. Following this defeat, Black Caesar was captured with the surviving crew by Virginia colonial authorities and was hanged in Williamsburg in 1718.

WRITTEN BY:  Melissa Petruzzello 

Chinese web users make light of Golden Week travel woes

Chinese web users make light of Golden Week travel woes

People playing frisbee along the Chengdu-Xiamen expressway in southern ChinaImage copyrightPEAR VIDEOImage captionPear Video says that some frustrated travellers in southern China got out of their cars to play frisbee

China’s “Golden Week” national holiday is under way, and social media users are making light of travel problems that are dogging the annual getaway.

Social media are dominated by video and images of the congestion that is hampering travel to popular…

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Chinese web users make light of Golden Week travel woes

People playing frisbee along the Chengdu-Xiamen expressway in southern ChinaImage copyrightPEAR VIDEO
Image captionPear Video says that some frustrated travellers in southern China got out of their cars to play frisbee

China’s “Golden Week” national holiday is under way, and social media users are making light of travel problems that are dogging the annual getaway.

Social media are dominated by video and images of the congestion that is hampering travel to popular destinations such as Beijing.

Official newspaper China Daily estimates that some 650 million people will travel within China this week, with a further six million heading abroad.

Golden Week is one of only two extended periods in which Chinese people can take time off during the year, the other being Chinese New Year, which falls in January or February.

‘People, people, people…’

Sina Weibo hashtag landing page #ImOnTheLongRoadDuringTheLongBreakImage copyrightSINA WEIBO
Image captionOver 13,000 Weibo users have used the hashtag #ImOnTheLongRoadDuringTheLongBreak

Related hashtags have been going viral on popular microblog Sina Weibo since people began embarking on journeys a few days ago.

Tens of thousands of users are posting using #ImOnTheLongRoadDuringTheLongBreak and #OnTheRoadDuringGoldenWeek to discuss the delays and congestion. Images of extreme congestion posted via Sina Weibo have been a big draw.

And mainstream news portals including Sina News have warned travellers to take extra precautions, posting survival guides and warning of the dangers of dehydration and heatstroke.

The official China News Service agency has shared a composite of pictures and videos, attracting more than 1,000 user comments. “People people people people people people,” says one caption. Beijing’s Tiananmen Square is shown thronged with selfie-stick users.

Regional newspaper Jiangnan Metropolis Daily shows birds-eye photos taken from inside a railway station in south-eastern Jiangxi, complete with a crying emoji. In some of the images it is almost impossible to see the station floor because of the crowding.

‘Hahaha!’

Popular media have carried humorous videos showing how embattled travellers have put on a brave face. Some of the videos have had millions of views and thousands of comments.

Cover News shows surveillance footage over Southwestern city ChengduImage copyrightCOVER NEWS
Image captionOne video has captions of users complaining about queues (L) while a user in the opposite lane (R) says “Hahaha!”

They include a video by news portal Cover News, showing gridlocked traffic heading towards the south-western city of Chengdu, and empty lanes exiting the city. Captions superimposed over images of the congested lane say things like “more queues!”, while captions over cars in the empty lane say “Hahaha!”

Video website Pear Video noted that a member of the transport police became an overnight online celebrity in northern Xi’an for entertaining queues of travellers outside a railway station.

The police officer tells them to behave as if they are Terracotta Warriors as they move forward in the queue, and tells them “go with your feelings, and don’t hold anybody’s hand”. The video has been viewed more than five million times.

Chinese tourists stuck on a delayed Caribbean flightImage copyrightGUANGZHOU DAILY
Image captionThousands of users joked about Chinese tourists stranded in the Caribbean, albeit because of Hurricane Maria

Social media users point out that Chinese travellers abroad have also been affected by travel problems. A video posted on Guangzhou Daily received seven million views after it showed a plane full of Chinese travellers passing the time by waving flags and singing the national anthem.

The newspaper says the 381 passengers had had their flight from the Caribbean back to China delayed for two days as a result of Hurricane Maria.

By Kerry Allen