by Mason Moseley, from the 2013–14 Social Justice Event Log
Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013
A most meaningful Middle Passage Remembrance Ceremony and Wayside Dedication took place at Yorktown beach this morning, with Lois Winter speaking as a major force in bringing this special day about. Wayne Dawkins was part of the program and was interviewing for Hampton University. We Unitarian Universalists took up a major portion of a row, with about ten of us, including Megan who is new to the congregation. Jennifer Ryu, Williamsburg UUs’ minister, was there. Yorktown is the first U.S. port to install such a wayside plaque.
According to the organizers’ website, http://www.middlepassageproject.org/, the mission of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project is to honor the ancestors of the African Diaspora by:
- Commemorating the nearly 2 million Africans who perished in the Middle Passage of the transatlantic human trade.
- Researching and identifying all ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade.
- Sponsoring remembrance ceremonies at each of more than 175 middle passage ports in 50 nations of North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
- Planning final ceremonies on the east and west coasts of Africa by 2020.
- Supporting installation, with the permission of the descendant community, of port markers to identify actual areas where a permanent record can be established to honor those who died and those who survived the Middle Passage.
- Educating the community at large to the vital role that Africans and their descendants played in the development of both local areas and nations.
- Partnering with historical and cultural societies, academic institutions, churches, visitor and tourist bureaus, and community organizations to promote African Diaspora history and culture, especially related to the Middle Passage.
They will unveil another plaque in Jamestown in August. There was healing and education and sorrow today. It was moving as well as celebratory for the effort that was taken. I appreciated a memorial to add to the many military observances, recognizing the unpleasant history which was part of how this country was formed.
Special thanks & credit to Henry Chambers for all of the photographs