Slave beating carving on display

Carla Allen
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A carving that portrays a distressful happening in Yarmouth’s past is on display at the Yarmouth County Museum and Archives for the next several weeks.

Sharon Robart-Johnson, author of Africa’s Children - A History of Blacks In Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, commissioned carver Bruce Jacquard two years ago to create a scene that depicts the beating of a slave.  

Jude was a slave in Raynardton who was flayed to death by two of her owner’s sons.

Robart-Johnson says she believes Jude was brought to Nova Scotia with the United Empire loyalists and then resold to Samuel Andrews in Raynardton.

She believes Jude was approximately nine-years-old at that time, in 1783. When she died in the 1800s she would have been in her mid-20s.

“She stole food, because she was hungry,” said Robart-Johnson.

She says Jude was whipped for her stealing

many times. When she stole bread and cheese the boys chased her and beat her so badly, she died from her injuries. There were wounds that were six-inches-long and two-inches-deep on her neck and her head.

“Had she any medical help she may not have died… but she did,” said Robart-Johnson.

She was speechless when she first saw the carving,

“It’s so powerful. It humanizes her. She was basically a name, a chattel, and eventually she was nothing.

“To me, she’s human. My sister says you champion her and I think I do. I think she deserves it after all she was put through.”

Jacquard says his main challenge was to line up the separate parts to show the woman’s correct anatomy.

Her upper body and feet are walnut; her light-coloured skirt is basswood.

The base, which is shaped like the continent of Africa, is made from red cedar.

Because Jacquard wanted to make the man a little more obscure than the woman, he carved him out of butternut and used a nondescript mahogany for the stick he is holding.

“I had to make everything to the scale of the lady because she was the principal in the whole thing.

“People know immediately what it’s supposed to signify. It intrigued me when I read the book. It’s embarrassing when you think that actually happened in this area.”

Organizations: United Empire

Geographic location: Africa, Nova Scotia, Raynardton Yarmouth

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Recent comments

  • Kim Maksymuik
    February 27, 2013 - 07:42

    This is another moving and sobering accomplishment by an important author. When I look at the carving I feel her pain and shame and anguish. I also see ignorance and hatred. It is a wonderful accomplishment to give Jude a "voice". The ugly truth is now impossible to deny. Bruce Jacquard did a tremendous job with the carving. You can feel the raw emotion of the depiction.

  • Rosemarie Nervelle
    February 23, 2013 - 13:13

    The moment I saw that carving, the image brough back the memory of Sharon Robart-Johnson's book, Africa's Children-A History of Blacks in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Not only is the carving a sensitive work of art, it is a symbol of the pain and suffering endured by black people even in the North where they attempted to escape from the atrocities that were so prevalent in the South. I have read Sharon's book and I feel proud that her efforts are being appreciated and brought to the attention of those who were ignorant of the shameful treatment of blacks right under the noses of those of us who were born and raised in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I would recommend that the Yarmouth Museum keep the piece on display throughout the summer so that tourists may see the horror of the true depiction of the lashing of the girl, Jude, who was beaten to death for stealing bread, a crime judged despicable enough to warrant her death at the hands of two ignorant racists. Sharon Robart-Johnson has given Jude her life back at last.