The Myth About Goree Island

Goree Island is an integral part of the African-American experience, located off the coast of Dakar, Senegal. This Island is incredibly important to African-American history and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical importance. Unfortunately, there is a widespread myth that has grown up around the island which is not accurate.

The Myth

The myth surrounding Goree Island is that it was an active part of the Atlantic Slave Trade and served as a major port for the shipping of millions of slaves into the New World. Unfortunately, this is untrue and the island actually had a much more fluid history, one that did not involve a significant role in the slave trade.

The reality of Goree Island

Goree Island actually served as a major trading center in the 15th century and was a hub of trade in the region. Not only was there an important slave trade operating in West Africa, but there was also an important free-trade economy that flourished on the island. This free-trade economy saw the importation of various goods from Europe and the Middle East, as well as the exportation of various products from West Africa to the New World.

In addition to its role as a trading center, Goree Island also served as a major cultural hub for Africans from both in and out of the region. Many historians believe that it was here that Portuguese and other Europeans picked up the music and dances that were to influence their own cultures centuries later.


Despite the widespread myth about Goree Island and its prominent role in the Atlantic Slave Trade, the truth is that it actually had a much more fluid and varied history. Not only was it a major trading center that served as a hub of free-trade in the 15th century, but it was also a major cultural hub as well.

It is important to remember that while the reality of what happened during the Atlantic Slave Trade is an incredibly dark period in human history, the legacy of Goree Island and its importance to African-American history should be remembered, celebrated and honored.