Black divers explore the wreckage of slave ships and ‘untold American history’

Jeffrey Brown:

In 2018, Roberts quit his job with a DC nonprofit and joined the DWP divers.

According to, a database of decades of research by researchers from a consortium of universities, more than 36,000 transatlantic voyages were made between 1501 and 1867, carrying some 12.5 million captured people to ports of the Americas. It is believed that 1.8 million people lost their lives on the journey known as the Middle Passage.

About 1,000 wrecks have been recorded, but less than 10 have been located and investigated. Diving With a Purpose is part of the Slave Wrecks Project, an international group of researchers and institutions hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, combining maritime archeology with training and community engagement.

Tara Roberts remembers falling on an anchor when she dived into what are believed to be the wrecks of two Danish ships, Fredericus Quartus and Christianus Quintus, which sank off Costa Rica in 1710.


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