August 23, 2019

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Historical Commission

FROM JAMESTOWN TO AFRICATOWN -1619 to 2019 NATIONWIDE DAY OF HEALING COMMEMORATING 400 YEARS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Andi Martin, Marketing and Public Relations Manager  

andi.martin@ahc.alabama.gov, 334-230-2680

 

August 23, 2019

 

From Jamestown to Africatown - 1619 to 2019

Nationwide Day of Healing Commemorating 400 Years

 

(Montgomery, AL) Sunday, August 25, 2019 is intended to be a day of healing. Across the nation, communities and organizations are hosting commemorative “Day of Healing” events recognizing the 400 years since the first arrival of enslaved Africans to colonial Jamestown, Virginia.

 

“This is a special moment in American history,” said National Park Service Superintendent Terry E. Brown of Fort Monroe. “Let’s unite as one on this day and show our appreciation for 400 years of African American history. We must embrace the West African concept of Sankofa, which teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward.”

 

Though remembrances across the country will showcase unique elements, there is an important unifying component for all – a nationwide bell ringing. To honor enslaved African ancestors and their descendants whose forced labor contributed to the establishment of the United Sates, bells will ring across the nation beginning at 3:00pm eastern for four minutes representing four hundred years. Organizers across the country are encouraging municipalities, townships, churches, schools, and individuals to participate in this powerful moment of remembrance by ringing bells in their respective time zones and locations.

 

Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project explained the significance and the purpose of utilizing bells in “Day of Healing” events. “The national bell ringing celebrates the value, persistence, strength, and courage of these ancestors and will enable all Americans to participate in this historic moment in the spirit of peace, freedom, and unity wherever they are and to share stories about the role Africans and their descendants have in the history of the nation.”

 

Residents of Africatown, Alabama will host a Day of Healing event on the campus of the Mobile County Training School on Sunday, August 25, 2019 beginning at 1:15 pm CST.

 

The event is described as “a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first enslaved Africans in English North America and the last known shipment of enslaved Africans to Africatown, Alabama.” The tribute will include a drum call, blessing of the Land by Chief Terry Ladnier, Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw Tribe, flower dedication (representing 54 African nations), artistic performances, and a butterfly release – a symbol of freedom.

 

400 smaller bells (to be distributed among event attendees) and the main school bell will ring at 2:00 pm CST in concert with others around the country.

 

Africatown event organizers recommend wearing Native Dress, Africa-inspired, or white clothing and comfortable shoes. They also suggest attendees prepare for the heat by bringing water and umbrellas. The Mobile County Training School is located at 800 Whitley St, Mobile, AL 36610.  

 

This event is free and open to the public. Parking for the event will be available on site at the Mobile County Training School and surrounding areas. The City of Mobile Police Department will be on hand to direct traffic.

 

The timing of this event holds special meaning for a community whose roots are linked to survivors of slavery.

 

In May of this year, the Alabama Historical Commission and partners announced experts and archaeological evidence determined the identity of the Clotilda, the last-known slave ship to arrive in the United States. The storied ship illegally transported 110 people from Benin, Africa to Mobile, Alabama in 1860, more than 50 years after the United States banned the importation of enslaved people to the country. Co-conspirators, Timothy Meaher and Captain William Foster made an effort to evade authorities and destroy evidence of their criminal voyage by burning, sinking, and abandoning the vessel and then dividing the Africans among their captors, where they remained in slavery until the end of the Civil War. A small band of the Clotilda survivors reunited post-war with the hopes of returning to Africa. When that dream was not realized, the survivors and their descendants established a new home for themselves in the Plateau area of Mobile – a community which is now known today as Africatown.

 

Electing to hold Africatown’s ‘Day of Healing’ event at the Mobile County Training School, founded by Clotilda descendants, was a very strategic and deliberate decision.Growing up and attending school in this special environment, I was taught so many important lessons, but the most important of all was to love all mankind. This event can help all in America to live its true meaning, that all men are created equal,” said Anderson Flen, President of the Mobile Training School Alumni Association.

 

Flen continued, “I know there are persons who lives have been built around taking advantage of others. We see that sickness being played out on the national, regional, and the local level today. It is time to call people out who are sick with greed, envy, hatred and malice. It is time for people of high moral conscience and strong will to come together in one accord and stand for truth, justice and freedom for all. It is time to begin the healing process in Mobile, Alabama, the nation and the world.”

 

Clotilda descendant Joycelyn Davis said, “I hope this ‘Day of Healing’ event inspires our youth and young adults to persevere in whatever obstacles that are in their way. To know first what our Ancestors went through on their journey from Africa to America should inspire our youth and young adults to be fearless in pursuing whatever God has for them to do.”

 

Africatown and Mobile are included as UNESCO Sites of Memory. They join a list of other U.S. port cities that together represent Middle Passage Locations Associated with UNESCO Slave Route Project. 

 

The United States’ history and participation in the practice of slavery dates back to the early 1500s with the founding and settling of early European territories along the Atlantic and Gulf coast. 42 of these documented Middle Passage locations from New England to the Southwest will ring their bells as part of the nationwide commemoration.

 

August 20, 2019 marked 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were forcibly migrated to Point Comfort in colonial Virginia. The White Lion, an English ship, reported “20 and odd” individuals were sold in exchange for food with the remaining transported to Jamestown and sold into slavery. These enslaved persons were the workforce behind the establishment of the first permanent English colony in North America.

 

The Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project release stated, “The landing of enslaved Africans at Point Comfort and the various Middle Passage locations was a link in a chain of profound events that shaped the United States, yet this history is not widely known or appreciated. Commemorating that history honors the lives of these African people and their descendants, acknowledges their sacrifices, determination, and contributions, and encourages a re-shaping of the history with a more honest and inclusive telling of the story that will continue to unfold and inform.”

 

About the Alabama Historical Commission

Located in historic downtown Montgomery at 468 S. Perry Street, the Alabama Historical Commission is the state historic preservation agency for Alabama. The agency was created by an act of the state legislature in 1966 with a mission to protect, preserve and interpret Alabama’s historic places. AHC works to accomplish its mission through two fields of endeavor: Preservation and promotion of state-owned historic sites as public attractions; and, statewide programs to assist people, groups, towns, and cities with local preservation activities. For a complete list of programs and properties owned and operated by the AHC, hours of operation, and admission fees please visit ahc.alabama.gov.

About the Mobile County Training School

The history of Mobile County Training School began as far back as 1880. It is the oldest county training school in Alabama. For many years it was a high school composed of grades 7-12. Renovations and additions were made in 1967 and the 6th grade was accommodated.

 

The 1970-71 school term resulted in a change in the grade structure of the school. This reorganization transformed the school from a high school to a middle school.

Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP), led by Executive Director Ann Chinn, is a non-profit tax-exempt organization established in 2011 to honor the two million captive Africans who perished during the transatlantic crossing known as the Middle Passage and the ten million who survived to build the Americas.  This initiative involves:

  • Commemorating the nearly 12 million Africans involved 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
  • Encouraging local communities to hold remembrance ceremonies at each of the 52 documented Middle Passage port sites in the United States of America
  • Supporting the installation of historic markers to establish a permanent record honoring those who died and those who survived the Middle Passage
  • Educating the community about the vital role that Africans and their descendants played in the development of both local areas and the nation
  • 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 Passag

The UNESCO Slave Route Project: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage Launched in 1994, the international and inter-regional project ‘The Slave Route: Resistance, Liberty, Heritage’ addresses the history of the slave trade and slavery through the prism of intercultural dialogue, a culture of peace and reconciliation. It thereby endeavors to improve the understanding and transmission of this human tragedy by making better known its deep-seated causes, its consequences for societies today and the cultural interactions born of this history. The project is structured around five key fields of activity: scientific research, development of educational materials, preservation of written archives and oral traditions, promotion of living cultures and contributions by the African diaspora and, lastly, preservation of sites of memory.

The promotion of the memorial heritage related to the slave trade and slavery plays a decisive role not only in educating the general public, and young people in particular, but also in facilitating national reconciliation and social cohesion processes in societies.

It is in this perspective that The Slave Route project has created a label to encourage the preservation of sites of memories and the establishment of itineraries that can tell this story and ensure that this heritage receives due attention at the national, regional and international levels.

 

###

 



  • For more information, visit http://ahc.alabama.gov
  • For more state-wide press releases, click here