The Middle Passage is the series of forced voyages made by enslaved Africans from Africa to the Americas over an approximately 350-year period. It was the second part of the three-part journey of merchant ships in the transatlantic slave trade, when Africans were enslaved, shackled below the decks of slave ships, and then transported as human cargo across the Atlantic Ocean to the Western Hemisphere. Although Middle Passage refers to this historical event, it has also had deep symbolic meaning for many African Americans. For example, various African American artists have sometimes attempted to understand the impact of the Middle Passage by rendering it creatively.
(From Kuryla, Peter. "Middle Passage." Encyclopedia of African American Society. Ed. Gerald D. Jaynes. Vol. 2. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2005. 535-537. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Jan. 2014.)