Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Selected Database

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Curator’s comments

During numerous conversations with her great-aunt Cornelia Johnson, Aminah learned that her father's ancestors had lived as slaves on Sapelo Island, Georgia. After the war, the ex-slaves established their own communities on Sapelo. Hog Hammock is the only community that survives on the island and almost its entire population of seventy is descended from slaves. The rest of the island is owned by the state of Georgia.

In 1803, Bilali (Ben Ali) Muhammad and his family arrived on Sapelo Island from West Africa. By 1806 he became the plantation manager for Thomas Spalding, a prominent Georgian landowner. Despite his ownership of more than 350 slaves, Spalding had considerable misgivings about the institution of slavery, exemplified by his reputation as a liberal and humane master. He utilized the task system of labor, which allowed his workers to have free time for personal pursuits. Slaves were supervised not by the typical white overseers but by black managers, the most prominent of whom was Bilali. One of Bilali's sons, Aaron is believed to have given the writer Joel Chandler Harris material for his Remus and Br'er rabbit stories.

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