The United Nations (UNESCO) has designated August 23rd as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has built its reputation, in part, on its role as an abolitionist city, now joins other cities around the world in recognizing its role in the slave trade as well.
Research identifying ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade* identifies the Port of Philadelphia on the Delaware River as one of more than 175 Middle Passage Ports in 50 nations of North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission approved a new Historical Marker, “The Pennsylvania Slave Trade,” which was unveiled on Penn’s Landing, in Philadelphia, on August 5th, 2016. Charles Blockson, Curator Emeritus of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, submitted the nomination including letters of support from the local community.
The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project (PhillyMPC), established in 2013 by Denise Valentine, worked to gather public support for a historical marker in memory of those Africans who debarked at the Port of Philadelphia. Each year, PhillyMPC observes Ancestral Remembrance Day with activities from dawn to dusk, including a silent observance at sunrise and a Blessing of the River. This year, the event was held on August 5th to coincide with the unveiling of the new Historical Marker.
PhillyMPC supports the larger, ongoing effort to build an International Coalition to Commemorate African Ancestors of the Middle Passage (ICCAAMP). In conjunction with the UNESCO Slave Route Project, bringing together all individuals, organizations, programs, and events related to the retrieval and preservation of Middle Passage history and heritage, including Remembrance ceremonies held around the United States and the world. Since 2011, a non-profit umbrella organization, the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP), Executive Director, Ann Chinn www.middlepassageproject.org has supported the planning of ancestral remembrance ceremonies by geographic regions in all U.S. cities that were middle passage ports.
We urge institutions around the world to follow the example of the National Maritime Museum, in Greenwich, London, by observing the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23, 2016. The Museum will to commemorate the lives and explore the legacies surrounding the trade of enslaved peoples on #SlaveryRemembranceDay with a day of reflection, talks, tours, music and workshops. For more information, visit: http://bit.ly/ISRD2016 http://www.rmg.co.uk/see-do/exhibitions-events/international-slavery-remembrance-day-2016#m8LJtIU3IB4r7myy.99
*Recorded Ships Importing Africans into Pennsylvania and NJ (1760 – 1800) * Data obtained from Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Emory University (www.slavevoyages.org)
Happy Dancing Feather, Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett, Mama Nzinga, Rhone Fraser, Belinda Banks as we began the Blessing of the River for Ancestral Remembrance Day Philly 2016, August 5th @ Penn’s Landing (Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project).