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VCU Archaeology

This is a Key

by Bernard K. Means


Key to slave shackles 3D scanned at the Mariners’ Museum and Park

This is a key

It’s a handsome key as far as keys go

Symmetrical, clean lines and simple details

Slightly rusted, but then it is old

More than two centuries in age

As a key it could open things…. a box,  a trunk, a drawer?

A lock….. yes, a lock…..

And it could close things, bind things

Bind a person

This key closed a lock that linked chains

Chains that bound a person

A person removed from their home

A person carried across a wide ocean

A person and their children and their children’s children

In bondage





2 thoughts on “This is a Key

  1. A powerful post. Did you compose it? Inspirational.

    Laura Galke, Small Finds Analyst
    George Washington Foundation
    268 King’s Highway
    Fredericksburg, VA 22405
    540-370-0732 x25

    Posted by Galke, Laura | August 17, 2017, 9:23 am

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