So, my mom couldn’t stop thinking about John Jack, a slave we wrote about a few days ago after learning of him at a house in Concord, Mass.
Signage on the Benjamin Barron house said Jack’s grave was in the Old Hill Burying Ground, and that its epitaph was world-famous.
Yesterday, we trekked back to Concord with a mission to visit his grave, leave some flowers and have a moment of silence. My human sister (8) picked out the flowers, and my brother (11) located the grave. (I actually stayed home for this one because the cemetery is small, graves are snugly packed together and we like to be as respectful as possible in cemeteries.)
Seeing Jack’s final resting place and reading the words in person was much more moving than my family expected. They all said a little something to pay their respects.
The words on his stone read:
“God wills us free; man wills us slaves.
I will as God wills; God’s will be done.
Here lies the body of
a native of Africa who died
March 1773 aged about 60 years
Tho’ born in a land of slavery,
He was born free.
Tho’ he lived in a land of liberty,
He lived a slave.
Till by his honest, tho’ stolen labors,
He acquired the source of slavery,
Which gave him his freedom;
Tho’ not long before
Death, the grand tyrant
Gave him his final emancipation,
And set him on a footing with kings.
Tho’ a slave to vice,
He practised those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves.”
Rest peacefully, King. You are remembered. Your life and story matter to us.
[…] graveyard, located on a hill overlooking town center, also hosts grave of John Jack, the first former enslaved person to purchase land in […]