This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 25, 2009 - His name was John Berry Meachum, but in a sense that wasn't his name at all. That was the name of the man who owned him. When African slaves were brought to this country against their will, they lost all their identity, their history, their music and their stories.
According to his own story, which he wrote after he learned his letters, John Berry Meachum was born a slave in May of 1789, the year that the country received its Constitution. His birthplace was Goochland County, Va., not far from the capital city of Richmond.