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First Lady Michelle Obama talks with two children while visiting the cultural center on Gorée Island

First Lady Michelle Obama talks with two children while visiting the cultural center on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

After our visit to the Martin Luther King School, we boarded a ferry to Goree Island, a small island off Senegal’s coast. For roughly three hundred years until the mid-1840s, countless men, women and children from Africa were kidnapped from their homes and communities and brought to this island to be sold as slaves. 

On our tour of the island, we saw the dark, cramped cells where dozens of people were packed together for months on end, with heavy chains around their necks and arms.  We saw the courtyard where they were forced to stand naked while buyers examined them, negotiated a price, and bought them as if they were nothing but property. And we saw what is known as “The Door of No Return,” a small stone doorway through which these men, women and children passed on their way to massive wooden ships that carried them across the ocean to a life of slavery in the United States and elsewhere – a brutal journey known as the “Middle Passage”. 

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