Commemorative Event :: Transatlantic Middle Passage :: First Annual in BaltimoreGroup Selects Baltimore as First of Many Ports to Commemorate
Transatlantic Middle Passage BALTIMORE, MD -- After years of planning, the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP) selected Baltimore’s Fells Point Harbor for a commemoration of Africans who perished in the Middle Passage from Africa to the New World. The August 23, 2012 ceremony shares the date with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and of Its Abolition.
Two events are planned at Fells Point’s Broadway Pier on August 23: one at dawn (6:00 am) and the other at dusk (7:15 pm). These events will provide an opportunity for individuals and families to offer tribute to their ancestors by offering libation, drumming, prayer, and calling the names of the deceased silently or out loud according to the preference of participants.
MPCPMP chose Baltimore because many African Americans can trace their ancestry to the port; it was one of the earliest and largest centers in the Chesapeake directly involved in the human trade of Africans. Scholars note that Fells Point is the location where Africans disembarked to be auctioned as chattel.
“All cultures bury and honor their dead. For those of us in the African Diaspora, we have the entire Atlantic Ocean as a burial ground,” said Ann Chinn, the project’s executive director. An estimated 2-6 million Africans died in the ocean migration over the course of more than 350 years.
MCPPMP is planning similar ceremonies at approximately 175 seaports in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Estimated to take eight to ten years to complete, the group’s effort will encourage localities to conduct remembrance ceremonies and place physical markers at each port site. When commemorations have been completed in major seaports, ceremonies will take place on the east and west coasts of Africa.
“In effect, we are finally remembering our ancestors’ sacrifice and acknowledging the truth that as survivors we stand on their shoulders,” Chinn said. “I feel that we are keeping a promise to honor our ancestors and appreciate their contributions, beginning with those who died in the Middle Passage.”
MPCPMP recently launched a blog (www.middlepassageproject.org/blog) to discuss the Middle Passage and its relevance to contemporary society; the online resource has attracted more than 4,000 readers from around the world. Visit www.middlepassageproject.org to learn more about the program and the commemorations. Media inquiries about the project can be directed to MPCPMP Executive Director at [address removed]
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