To those unfamiliar with the series, it documents the story of modern treasure hunters the Brothers Lagina. The treasure of Oak Island is an old story in American history. If you want to learn more, go here, otherwise I will just say a large amount of gold and silver and other treasures are said to be hidden on Oak Island.
Samuel Ball was an ex-slave who escaped from a North Carolina plantation in the 18th century. He escaped when he was a mere eleven years old. He fought on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War. When the Americans won he relocated to Nova Scotia.
Sometime during his life in America, he had spent time on a privateer or pirate ship. By the time of his death, he was the largest landholder in Nova Scotia. This is why he looms so large over the series. I strongly believe Samuel Ball knew of the treasure through his years as a pirate on the Atlantic seaboard. Given the growth of his fortune over his life a strong case can be made for the theory Samuel Ball used the “Oak Island Treasury” to build a future for himself and his family.
I have done a bit of research on the life of Samuel Ball. Unfortunately, there is little available information. The fact he escaped from slavery as an eleven-year-old boy and died a rich man is a narrative to be admired. I wanted to know more, but there was little information. I felt his story could be so inspirational if it had more detail.
In fact, the details of this man’s life must be amazing. What he endured as a child, as a slave, and then a fugitive could only be harrowing. He could only have borne enormous hatred for those who had enslaved him. There is no wonder he fought against the American Colonies in the Revolutionary War. The defeat of the British was likely a bitter pill but he moved on.
Samuel Ball lands on his feet in Nova Scotia. He buys land and makes a life on Oak Island. He is the largest landowner in Nova Scotia upon his death. The arc of experience he must have lived. What a powerful personality he must have been to overcome so many obstacles.
As I watched the Curse of Oak Island, I became ever more convinced Samuel Ball was central to the solution. The more I learned of him, the more I admired him. I had to admit he represented much of what Americans think about themselves. Samuel Ball’s never say die attitude to overcome is what Americans see at the core of their exceptionalism.
Yet Samuel Ball is not an American success story. His is more of a Canadian success story. Samuel Ball became the African who should have been an American to me. He reminded me of the terrible verse in the national anthem which Colin Kapernick had reminded the country of during his police brutality protests. The third verse is an undeniable lyrical wish for the death of men like Samuel Ball.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave.
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
We will never know what Samuel Ball would have accomplished had he not been enslaved in North Carolina. He is obviously an exceptional individual who could have added to America and its legacy of exceptionalism. Yet, we rejected him. We fought against him. We celebrate the death of those like him in song.
We must move beyond this anthem. Colin Kapernick was told to kneel by a veteran, yet somehow his kneeling was portrayed as disrespectful. Taking a knee has always been sign of submission, sadness, regret or respect. Taking a knee has NEVER meant disrespect, but a respectful protest against police brutality became a nationalistic touchstone and portrayed as Un-American.
To this day we sing this song before sporting events. Today, just as we can never know what Samuel Ball may have accomplished as an American, we will never actually know if Colin Kapernick could have won a Super Bowl or create a legacy of winning like Tom Brady as an NFL quarterback. He was never given a chance because powerful people did not like his political point of view. Perhaps it was even more than that, perhaps they didn’t like his color either. It seems we have not really come as far as we think from the days of Samuel Ball.
For the world to take seriously the United States stated desire for racial justice, then the national anthem needs to be addressed. For the country to fully embrace the Africans who are now Americans. This national anthem is an obstacle to truly welcome them into shining city on the hill. The Star-Spangled Banner contains a racist nationalistic rant. It does not even have its own music having stolen a British drinking song’s melody.
This Land is Your Land is far more appropriate. Every day Americans sing about the deaths of Africans who should have been Americans, they increase the racial divide. The divide threatens the nation. Not just through violence on the street, but in a far more subtle way. It is a brain drain. Smart and resourceful people, like Samuel Ball, the African who should have been an American, will just leave and take their talents elsewhere.
Disclaimer: Like every Hacker Noon article, all opinions in this article belong to the author alone. The opinions presented here may not necessarily represent the opinion of Hacker Noon as a whole.
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