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Airdate: May 15, 2019
Scientist: Albert James (A.J.) Williams Myers

The Slave King

The Slave King
During the week-long Pinskter celebration in colonial times, Angolan King Charles assumed his royal status.

PINKSTER - King Charlesambience: Pinkster Drumming Heres a program from our archives.This week, two hundred years ago, African slaves in New York celebrated Pinkster. For five days, they reveled in the music and culture of their homeland and paid homage to a fellow slave known as King Charles. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Plane.Myers: King Charles who presided over Pinkster carnival in Albany was alleged to have been born in Angola of princely background. That's one of the things about a trade in African captives is that many royalty themselves were captured and sent to the Americas to be enslaved. And so he was identified as one that having been born of royalty in what is today the Congo.Albert James Williams Myers is a professor of Black Studies at the State University of New York in New Paltz. He tells us that although King Charles worked as a slave for most of the year, during Pinkster he assumed his royal title.Myers: He was an enslaved African owned by an individual in Albany. He presided over the Pinkster Carnival because of his royalty no doubt. Another reason why he was selected is that in Africa there's a tradition of what's called a Master Drummer. You see everyone pretends to beat the drum or can beat the drum but not the way a master can make the drum talk. And so he really was a master drummer identified as that and that carries with it a certain status you know within African societies in this case.Please visit our website at of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner. Weve been listening to a program from our archives. If you want to hear more, check out our podcast.