How African Babies Were Used As Allegator Bait During Slavery - A Horrific History
October 12, 2020 52
In 418 B.C Herodotus, the Greek philosopher who is known as the father of history said “a man who does not know anything about the events that took place before he or she was born will remain forever a child.”
Not only was he right but we must go a step further by saying that any human being who refuses to learn from their history is condemned to repeat the mistakes, and as so sharing the same fate in the consequences of such mistakes.
Africa is a continent rich in history. But as we enjoy telling stories of our golden past, it is important that we also give a complete and undiluted account of our journey through slavery and man's inhumanity to man.
Of all the atrocities committed against the enslaved Africans in the Americas and Europe, the use of babies as alligator bait is one that leaves the reader with a tear in the eye. Imagine that the child in question was yours, would send shivers down your spine.
These things are not easy to say, but we must say them, for posterity sake. And for the sake of the present and future.
Alligator bait, also called gator bait, was the evil practice of using children of enslaved-Africans as bait to lure alligators. This practice was popular in Louisiana and Florida, and other parts of the South in America.
During that era, there was a high demand for alligator skin, which was used in the production of leather shoes, jackets, and other leather materials. Alligator skin was very profitable in the 1800s-1900s. But the hunters often had accidents and lost their arms or lives as they rustled the swampy waters in their attempt to attract the alligators to the surface at night.
So, their other viable option was to steal slave babies and use them as bait. They didn't find any rodents, or chickens, or rabbits, or little goats. Those were too valuable. It had to be a baby that a woman carried for 9 months under intense pain, brutality, and hard work.
This account has been denied by many in their attempt to cover up these atrocities. But there are oral accounts, documentaries, and publications to substantiate our right to closure, empathy, and healing.
In 1923 a publication on 'TIME magazine reported that "From Chipley, Fla., it was reported that colored babies were being used for alligator bait. The infants were left to play in shallow water while expert riflemen watch from concealment nearby. When a saurian approaches his prey, he is shot by the riflemen. The Chipley Chamber of Commerce said the story was “a silly lie, false and absurd.” Maybe so, but it was widely reported in the American press, so it was at least believable among white Americans of the time"
To give further evidence of this vile practice, photos and postcards found in the Jim Crow museum shed clear light on this. A man in Florida had a picture framed and put on his wall showing nine naked little African boys with the words “Alligator Bait” written below.