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Obama's slave lesson at the Door of No Return

JULIE PACE
Last updated 09:07 28/06/2013

Barack Obama, the first US president of African ancestry visits Goree Island in Senegal -- the point of departure for the slave trade. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

Obama in Africa
Reuters
DOOR OF NO RETURN: Obama on Goree Island.

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President Barack Obama says he learned some lessons on a visit to Goree Island, where he toured a slave house and gazed out at the Atlantic Ocean through what's known as the Door of No Return. It's the point on this Senegalese island from which Africans were said to have been shipped to the Americas and into indentured servitude generations ago.

The son of a Kenyan man, Obama said the tour helped him, and the family members who accompanied him, to "fully appreciate the magnitude of the slave trade." He was joined by first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha, his mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, and a niece, Leslie Robinson.

The president said the trip on Thursday (local time) also reminded him of the importance of standing up for human rights worldwide.

"This is a testament to when we're not vigilant in defense of human rights what can happen," Obama said after the tour. "Obviously, for an African-American, an African-American president, to be able to visit this site, I think, gives me even greater motivation in terms of human rights around the world."

Obama spent about a half-hour touring the salmon-colored slave house, including seeing the small holding rooms that separately held male and female Africans before they were loaded onto ships bound for the Americas. He spent about a minute peering through the Door of No Return, and went back for a second long look after his family had a chance to peek out too.

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- AP

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