Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!
"In the spirit of SANKOFA...Reach Back and Fetch your history & your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."
~ Chadra Pittman Walke, Founder & Executive Director
For more info or to schedule a program contact us:
Monday, November 26, 2012
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Monday, October 8, 2012
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
"If you disassociate yourself with your Ancestral heritage, be that Japanese, Chinese, Indian, African, you are lost to your ancestral, your cultural heritage because you 're asleep. If you are alseep spiritually you can be oppressed and manipulated." by Ade Adelaja. When I heard these words by Ade Adelaja spoken in the beginning of the trailer for,"Ancestral Voices: Esoteric African Knowledge I knew I had to see the film. I immediately contacted the directors and was told that I could purchase the film through amazon.com which I did. Once I received the film, I sat glued to the screen taking it all in. I had never seen a film addressing traditional African religions, asking the questions and posing ideas to contemplate in this way about why we embrace or abstain from Traditional religions. I knew I had to find a way to share it with others. Over the past few months, I have kept in contact with the director of the film. I was hoping to catch the directors at one of their screenings as they were touring the United States. Unfortunately there were no screenings scheduled for Hampton or the surrounding cities. I decided that this film had to be shared and discussed and The Sankofa Projects could be the vehicle to get it to the masses. I emailed scholars, professors and community people and shared the trailer and the buzz of interest began. I set a date to show the film at the local library and planned a discussion afterwards with scholars and members of the Traditional Religions. I emailed the director to share that The Sankofa Projects would be screening the film at the Hampton Public Library, as part of our mission is to serve as a liaison between the grass roots and academic community.
What wonderful news to see that our screening is listed on their Facebook page above and on the website for their production company below in this link. The Sankofa Projects is truly making international connections. This is what the Diaspora is all about!!! The Africana House at the College of William and Mary has decided to screen this film as well. This is fantastic news!! />
If you can, please join us on October 14th at 1:15 p.m. at the Hampton Public Library. This film is a must see and the worthy of being discussed.
"Ancestral Voices..."is truly food for spirit and the soul!!! Join us for the discussion afterwards with scholars, leaders and members of Traditional African Religions from our community. This event is FREE and open to the public. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org as space is limited. Thank you! Asante sana! Obrigado! Date: Sunday, October 14th Time: 1:15 p.m. Where: Hampton Public Library 4207 Victoria Blvd Hampton, VA Hope to see you there!!
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Please join us for a viewing of this amazing film Ancestral Voices as it explores African traditional religions. Directed by Verona Spence and Dalian Adofo- A Longbelly Film.
EVENT IS FREE... just bring an open mind- discussion afterwards
Hampton Public Library
207 Victoria Boulevard, Hampton, Virginia 23669
Sunday, October 14, 2012. 1:00pm until 4:00pm.
The Sankofa Projects creates and promotes educational and cultural events focused on the African Diaspora. As well, we create Rituals of Remembrance Ceremonies to honor the ancestors and aspire to fill in the missing pages of the historical record so that it accurately reflects the contributions that the African influence has had on the globe. The Sankofa Projects serves as a liasion between the grass roots and academia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION--- CONTACT: email@example.com or 757-816-1579
Peace and blessings!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Today marks the 11th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack where thousands of people lost their lives, families changed forever and the world would mourn this tragedy for years to come.
For me, September 11th and the World Trade Center holds a strange yet special memory as this was the place I worked for almost 4 years doing a job I loved, lecturing and giving tours of the historic African Burial Ground (ABG)Project in New York City. It was while I was working at the World Trade that I had a prophetic dream which I believe saved my life years later. On September 11, 2001, our office ,which was housed at 6 World Trade Center, crumbled along with the towers on that horrific day.
My joyful memories...I remember how elated I was when I interviewed and was offered the job as Public Educator at the Office of Public Education and Interpretation of the African Burial Ground Project. I would lecture to children as young as third grade and to the elderly, in schools, libraries, churches and at universities. I would also become the Public Relations Media Coordinator to the project sending out press releases, creating Press Kits and packages and sending images like the one above to magazines to be featured in publications.
I felt a sense of accomplishment working at the ABG because I followed my passion and found a job in my field, despite the fact that everyone said I would never be able to find a job in Anthropology. I was so proud to be working on such a historic project as this National Monument and National Historic Landmark site. I was honored to tell the stories of these early Africans who lived and were enslaved in New York in the 1700's and took great pleasure in dispelling the myths that said that enslavement did not occur in the North. I loved sharing the archaeological findings from the grave sites; the artifacts which proved that Africans brought their culture with them as was seen in the waits beads, shrouding of the dead and filed teeth found in the grave site and on the skeletal remains. These 419 burials were the proof, were the physical evidence that NY was heavily involved in this immoral trade of human bodies as New York had the second largest population of enslaved Africans next to Charleston, South Carolina. I was proud to be working alongside and learning from these amazing and brilliant scholars like Dr. Michael L. Blakey, Dr. Warren Perry, Dr.Edna Medford, Dr. Cheryl La Roche, Jean Howsen, Dr. Sherrill Wilson to name a few. I was privileged to meet and work with community people; grassroots leaders who had a deep respect and reverence for these ancestors and adopted them as family. I was honored to sit at the feet of the elders and listen to their stories. It was here, at the ABG, where I would make lasting lifelong friendships for which I am eternally grateful. On one day, the place that held so many beautiful memories for me became, for so many, a place of horror, tragedy and death. I kept thinking about all the people I knew who worked in the towers, the security and federal police, my friends at Fed Ex, and people I knew in the Smoothie and Bagel shop I used to visit daily. I kept thinking about them and wondered if they ever made it out alive?
So today we are reminded of that tragedy and of the lives lost. The tradition of honoring Ancestors goes way back decades, probably to a time before time. Many have been committed to this sacred work of honoring our ancestors and find it cathartic to revisit the places, the grave sites, the sacred ground or sacred places to remember their loved ones.
Whether is it a day of remembrance to honor the lives lost on September 11th, a Remembrance Ceremony in South Carolina on Sullivan's Island or a ceremony in St. Croix to honor the African who perished in the Middle Passage, whether it is a ceremony to honor the lives of Native American Indians who were slaughtered at Wounded Knee or whether we are honoring the people of the Jewish faith who were brutally exterminated during the Holocaust, those who perished in the Tsunami of 2004 along the land masses of the Indian Ocean, revering the deceased, honoring our ancestors is something we all recognize as sacred and important and necessary for our communal healing.
A need to heal is a big part of what motivated me to start the tradition of Remembrance in Virginia. For those who perished during the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade, there was no sacred ground for the descendants to visit. That sacred ground is not ground, but water and has been referred to as "the watery grave of the Atlantic Ocean". (Adkins) The first burials of millions of African men, women and children who never made it off the enslavement ships alive was the Atlantic Ocean.
May we all begin to heal and for all those who have transitioned, let us do this in Remembrance of them.
Photo credit: Chester Higgins
Adkins,L.E. (2009). Burial in the African Diaspora-Burial, African Practices in the Americas. A. Pinn(Ed.),
African American Religious Cultures.(667). ABC CLIO.
The Sankofa Projects is proud to announce that we are co-creating a Ritual of Remembrance ceremony with the Middle Passage Project of the College of William and Mary to be held on Saturday, September 22nd at 4:30 p.m. Please join us for the conference and this ceremony.
"How should America prepare for the 400th anniversary of 1619, the year that the House of Burgesses began and the first documented Africans arrived in Virginia?
What kinds of programs, themes and new understandings might we wish to highlight and promote? How can we create historical accessibility to the meaning of 1619 when most of America has no understanding of its significance?
Beginning on September 21-22, 2012, we invite the community to join us in a discussion of the significance of 1619 and its importance in making American society and culture. We hope that this conference will establish the groundwork for a national dialogues and reinterpretation of major events that began in 1619 that would shape the contours and character of America.
This conference is supported by
NSU International Programs
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Lemon Project, College of William and Mary
NSU Title III-Honors College: Discipline-Specific Honors Programs
Middle Passage Project
Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia"
Text taken from http://1619makingofamerica.com/about/
Cassandra L. Newby-Alexander, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Norfolk State University
Thursday, September 6, 2012
2 more days of Freedom Fighters: Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman Series by Jacob Lawrence at Hampton University
January 27, 2012 – September 8, 2012
Jacob Lawrence’s Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman series from the late 1930s present the dramatic biographies of two American abolitionists who lived around the time of the Civil War. Together, the paintings have an extraordinary conceptual unity and visual eloquence. Although completed very early in Lawrence’s career, these two series embody some of the artist’s strongest work.
Image is Ironers
Artist: Jacob Lawrence
Artist's Lifespan: 1917-
Location of Origin: United States
Original Size: 21 1/2 x 29 1/2 in
Style: American Scene
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Tuesday was JC's 1st day of school and we are excited to have our first born in the first grade. However, when we learned that President Obama was speaking at Norfolk State University, we knew we could not miss this opportunity to share this moment in history with our sons.
JC wanted to film President Obama so his dad put him on his shoulder. Guess who was on the evening news??? JC and his dad are at 1.34 of the video and seen in the photo wearing the orange baseball cap.
Today was his first day in first grade and he is excited to be back in school. When he was asked at school this morning, "Where were you yesterday?", he told everyone, "I went to see President Obama". This video and picture are the proof! Seeing President Obama is history in the making...this is education at its BEST!!!!
Friday, August 31, 2012
"During the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League(UNIA-ACL) Convention of 1920 August 1st to August 31st, held in NY the Declaration of the Rights of the Negroes(Africans) Peoples of the World was adopted. In order to encourage our race all over the world and to stimulate it to a higher and grander destiny, we demand and insist on the following Declaration of Rights:
Of the 54 Rights Listed in the Declaration of Rights number 53 and 54 reads as follows;
53) "We proclaim the 31st day of August of each year to be an International Holiday to be observed by all Negroes (Africans).
54) We want all men/women to know we shall maintain and contend for the freedom and equality of every man, woman and child of our race, with our lives, our fortunes and sacred honor."
If I had two things to amend in the text below, it would be Negro to African and race to culture. I still cringe when I see or hear "Negro" being used to describe people of African descent. However, this text was written in 1920; very different times and out of respect for the movement I have posted the text as it was written. What is important is the work they were engaged in; that is the take away.
As well, I would describe people of African descent as a culture as humans are distinguished by cultures and fall under one human race.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Chinua Achebe writes that "Until the lions have the historians, the story of the hunt will always glorify the hunter." For the past few days, since the ceremony at Fells point, I have been thinking a lot about this saying.
There were many months leading up to the Fells Point Ceremony in Baltimore of writing, preparation to create the Ritual for the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port markers Project's (MPCPMP) dawn and dusk ceremonies. Many conference calls, emails, misunderstandings, issues that came up and clarity found. I have learned "grave", pun intended, yet valuable lessons on this journey. Although some of the lessons were surprising and completely unexpected, they were necessary in order that I move forward with a new awareness of my responsibilities to the dead, the living and the unborn.
I am grateful to have been part of the team of writers that created the template for the ceremony. Dr. Joanne M. Braxton, Dr. Rachel Harding and I brought to this project years of knowledge and experience which we possess individually and collectively. In order to create a meaningful sacred ceremony and to fulfill a sacred covenant with the ancestors, we created a template which we gave freely to the MPCPMP as a gift to the ancestors and I pray they, the ancestors, are pleased.
For decades now, many have across the United States and the globe have committed their lives to this sacred work of honoring our ancestors. Tributes and remembrances are nothing new. Many have been working in this tradition of paying honor and tribute to our ancestors who perished in the Middle passage of the Trans-Atlantic Enslavement Trade for a long time. Remembering our ancestors is necessary---it is the work we must do to heal and to move forward taking purposeful steps.
It is also important to acknowledge the work that others have done in this tradition before us. When we honor those who came before us, we honor ourselves as well. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
For the past few months, Dr. Joanne M. Braxton, Dr. Rachel E. Harding and I co -created the Ritual Liturgy for the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Marker's project. Over the next 8 years the template we created will be used in 175 port cities where African entered countries during enslavement across the United States, the Caribbean and Europe.
Grateful to be doing the work that I love and I pray the ancestors are pleased! There will be a dawn and a dusk ceremony at 6am and 7:15pm. The ceremony will be at Fells Point on August 23, 2012-- Broadway Pier Baltimore, MD Peace and blessings, Chadra
Friday, August 17, 2012
Since the Remembrance ceremony at Buckroe beach, I have been invited to partake in four radio interviews, to write and co-author articles, contribute to books, consult and create rituals for an International organization and co-create a ritual with the talented Professor Artisia Green, President of the Black Theater Network for a 1619 conference; The Making of America at Norfolk State University lead by brilliant scholars Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander and Dr. Joanne Braxton, Founder and Director of the Middle Passage project at the College of William and Mary.
Over the past few months, I have been working closely with Dr. Braxton, who has taken me under her wings and provided me opportunities to spread my own wings. To her, I am incredibly grateful. I consider the work involving the ancestors sacred work and I am honored to work on their behalf as I create rituals, write articles and attempt to fill in the missing pages of the historical records of the contributions Africans have made across the globe.
For the past three months, Dr. Joanne Braxton, Dr. Rachel Harding, Professor at the University of Colorado, and I have been working on creating a template for an International ritual of remembrance ceremony to be used throughout the African diaspora by the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (PMP) over the next 9 years.
The first ceremony for the PMP will be held in Baltimore next Thursday, August 23rd. I will be in Baltimore participating in the ceremonies so if you are in Baltimore come, join us. If you want more information, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
These are truly exciting times!! I thank all of you for the love and support you have shown me over the years as you have encouraged me to get back to the work that I love... and the work that I came to this Earth to do. Watch out doctoral programs, here I come!!!
Obrigado...asante sana to you all!!! (thank you in Portuguese and Swahili)
peace, love and many blessings,
Adkins,L.E. (2009). Burial in the African Diaspora-Burial, African Practices in the Americas. A. Pinn(Ed.),African American Religious Cultures.(667). ABC CLIO.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
On Friday, August 10th after over a year of planning by my mother, Cecelia White Pittman and my cousin Mose Ball, we had our first ever Bell, Ball, Dancy, Lewis White Family reunion in Newport News, Virginia.
This BBDLW brought together 5 families who are all connected by a common ancestor Harriet Jones. We have traced our family history back 189 years to Harriett Jones who was born in 1819 and bore 5 sons. Harriet gave all her sons the last names of their fathers which is the reason why we 5 families know we are related today.
My mother after many weeks of preparation ran herself ragged and could not attend the 1st night's activities. She was missed but family stepped and registered family and we got everyone fed and singing karaoke and line dancing until 11:00 p.m.
Saturday morning, I conducted a Genealogy workshop where we talked about the construction of race, tracing lineage, our Native and African roots. We spoke about our common ancestor Harriett and talked about race relations during that time as her 1st child was born and fathered by a European man at the age of 15 years old. Was that relationship consensual? Was Harriet enslaved? Was Harriett raped?
That afternoon, I went to the Weyanoke's Association, Coming Together Day in Charles City County in Virginia. It was an amazing event under the tall pine trees of the Fish Hatchery, we were smudged with sage and then were lead in by Mr. Harrell and Mrs. Harrell, Founders of the Weyanoke Association, as they sang a traditional African Native song and chant.
There were lectures and singing and drumming. I gave a lecture on the importance of Remembering our Ancestors and the June 9th ritual at Buckroe Beach. I spoke of the importance honoring our ancestors and the importance of the youth the work of our ancestors forward.
We had a banquet Saturday night and danced the night away. We saw how incredibly talented our family is with the poems read and performed, the beautiful singing as her background dancers we lovingly named the Pips, we honored our eldest relative who is 99 years young.
We ended the reunion with a church service and a lunch where we signed volunteer registrations for President Obama's 2012 campaign and took pictures to send in to them campaign.
It was a beautiful weekend as we met new family , reconnected with family we know yet haven't seen in a while. In the spirit of sankofa, we must look back before we can move forward. I am grateful for all these new people in my life, my family whom I did not know before this weekend yet I grew to love them by the time the weekend was over. I so look forward to seeing them again soon!
If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to talk with your family members and plan a family reunion. Touch your roots and know the rich history you come from. You will be glad you did!
Monday, August 6, 2012
I hope you this e-mail finds you in the best of health and spirits.
Part of the mission of The Sankofa Project is to support the initiatives of other organizations we believe in, who are doing worthy deeds in the community and shedding light on the history and culture of Africans of the Diaspora. The mission of the Weyanoke Association is "promote research in, and the sharing of, Black or (African and American African) and Red (Native American or Indian) history and culture, and the places where they intersect."
The Weyanoke is hosting their 14th Annual Coming Together Day this upcoming Saturday, August 11th at 1:00 p.m. in Charles City County Virginia ~ Free Admission.
Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery
11110 Kimages Road
Charles City, VA 23030
Join us in supporting the Weyanoke as they mark the 393rd Anniversary of the African settlement near the Weyanoke Indians in what is now Charles City County.
In the spirit of Sankofa,
Friday, July 20, 2012
Thank you Bro John Spruce, Sister Jerrie Spruce, Sister Shine Sun for calling in to the station and blessing the interview with your words. Thank you to eveyone who tuned in and all the love and support you have shown.
Peace and blessings,
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Today marks one week since we met at Buckroe Beach, were lead around the "Tree of Remembrance" by Priest Ogunjimi, paid tribute to the ancestors who perished in the watery grave of the Atlantic Ocean through dance, dramatic readings, poetry, prayers on flowers, moments of silence and tears shed.
Thank you for coming out to participate in this Inaugural Remembrance Ceremony and for being a part of making history. We, in Hampton, Virginia, along with others in New York, South Carolina, Washington, Panama, Ghana and the Virgin Islands came together and poured libations on June 9, 2012 to honor the lives lost during the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. As the Sankofa proverb teaches us, which is translated as "reach back and fetch it," let us continue to fetch our history and our culture taking purposeful steps forward towards a dynamic future. Thank you for being a part of this movement! It was a beautiful day and I surely hope the ancestors were pleased.
Whether you were a part of the scheduled program, stood up to share your feelings, poetry, shared information about an organization you are affiliated with, sent gifts by mail or you sat quietly in the midst- sincerest thanks to you !!!
In our sacred circle at the Remembrance ceremony were: concerned, sentient beings, family and dear friends, passersby, Presidents /members of ASALH, Project 1619, Reggae Virginia, the Mayor's office, Rising the Vibration, Visionaries Photography, Poetics, Dance with Sunshine, COLLAGE, Ile Nago, the Middle Passage Project at the College of William and Mary, Akeru Ministries, United Souls Band, Sassy Ears, The Reiki Healing Arts, Heliopolis RPM, Fit to be Goddess, OISI and Lover of Life. So grateful for all of you!!
This blog is to capture the thoughts, sentiments, writings...and the links for our kindred organziations. If you do not see your link here and would like it posted, please comment and share your link. Thank you.
The Facebook page is the place to capture the pictures and the calendar of events so that we can connect with cultural/educational/historical happenings in the Hampton Roads community. The link for "The Sankofa Project" Facebook page is to the right of this page under Let's Support these Sites. Let's stay connected!!
Looking forward to seeing you next year at our 2nd Annual Remembrance Ceremony. We'll meet under the tree! Ashe!
Friday, June 15, 2012
Thank you to my mother, Cecelia White Pittman for leading by example and showing me the importance of touching your roots, my father,Carlton Pittman the griot-for sharing funny and compelling stories from his childhood about my grandparents and the Africans who came to visit them, my sister, Dr. Carlane Pittman Hampton, my PR, media person extraordinaire-who has supported all my passions, my Bro in law Adonis Hampton, for giving me contacts for local papers, my sistah and dear friend, Deborah Wright my kindred -we share a love for everything African and who inspired me to create Remembrance in Virginia based on her 15 years as one of the founders of Remembrance in South Carolina, the Remembrance Committee: Ronald Orme,thank you for your friendship and support all these years and all the stages of my life,thank you for the gifts of ice and leading the way as the best clean up crew ever, Latania Brock dear fg and friend always ready hear new ideas and support me through them-thank you for the umbrella to shade us,John and Jerrie Spruce, a beautiful couple committed to our culture and their beautiful daughter, thank you for the Downing Gross meeting room, reading the excerpts at the ceremony,thank you for your flexibility and being in the moment, and for those gifts of cowrie and candle, Sunshine Allison and her dancers, Karah Churmusi, Ericka Mitchell and Nikkitta Simpson for evoking strength and power in their performance, Sistah Wanda Sabir for gathering all those involved in the Remembrance together on the air at one time, Dr. Chenzira of Per Ankh University for your support and a wonderful radio interview-we are kindred for sure, Professor Artisia Green of the College of William and Mary-thank you for sharing your gift of theatrics with us- your powerful performance of "Crossing a Deep River: A Ritual Drama in Three Movements" brilliantly written by Rev. Dr. Joanne M. Braxton of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William stirred up such emotion and thanks to the former student who assisted you, thank you to Rev. Dr. Braxton for the generous gift of the sage you sent so you could be with us in spirit, I appreciate your kindness and for sharing your play with us at this sacred ceremony and sharing this event with others, to Priest Ogunjimi who named the "Tree of Remembrance"and taught us all that day, for leading us with a beautiful and emotional libation with Awo Baba Adeyemi, Drummer Brother Larry Gibson aka GIP who greeted me with open arms from the start-we are kindred and invited Drummer Walker to drum and be with us, Ventia Benitez for sending the gift of the Proclamation for me to read from President Barack Obama citing January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month, to my family Tom and Daphanie Thomas for surprising me by coming to support me -you brought me to tears, Dr. Colita Fairfax who shared the Remembrance information with Calvin Pearson and members of Project 1619 so they could attend, Anita Harrell of the Weyanoke Association for generously providing me with contacts in the cultural community, to Dr. Chon Glover who counseled me, gave great advice like "you should start a blog;)", I listened Chon thank you for your friendship, hugs, love and reminding me it is "when not if!", to Dr. Marilyn Mobley who was my teacher then became my Aquarian sistah friend, I have grown up with you and we have shared many moments, thank you for your prayers and believing in me teacher of "Both and", to Dr. Michael Blakey- thank you for your support, advice, listening ear and for leading us through the amazing journey of the New York African Burial Ground Project where my commitment and link to the ancestors was formed, to Jenn y Michael, Mano, Kianna, Dana, Alliot,lil sis Ayaba, Rula,Sharon,my sistahs and brothers- thank you for your support,love, encouragement and friendship,to my families Mama Jones and Mr. Clarence for your love and encouragement and Sara and Steve Credito(MD) for the love and support you all are family to me, my surrogate, Mrs. Joan T. Gibbs, you saw me when others didn't and supported me in all ways, to Uncle Bruce and Aunt Marlene for the love you've shown my family for the past 60 years and for the love and support you show, for always making time for our boys, to my best friend of 22 years Candice Ferreira for her unconditional love and support and encouraging me pursuing my passions "like a tree in da wind", Doug Jones my brother and brilliant writer who is the whisper in my ear, praying with me-nudging me me forward, to my darling sons who gave me the quiet time, most days - bless their active minds and souls and the space to work on this program, for my husband and partner of almost 11 years Dr. James T. Walke, thank you for your support and unconditional love, for seeing me with both eyes open and giving me the room to spread my wings. Je t'aime.
To my African Ancestors who paved the way, some who never made it off the ships alive, who lay in the watery grave of the Atlantic, for those who fought, resisted, struggled, and those who survived, on whose shoulders I stand, I am indebted to you and eternally grateful. I pray this Remembrance begins the healing that we all need.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
On Saturday, June 9, 2012, The Sankofa Projects hosted our Inaugural Remembrance ceremony. The tradition of Tributes to the Ancestors who perished in the Middle passage has a long history which spans decades if not longer. The Tradition of Tributes to the Ancestors that we are apart of began in New York 23 years ago, in South Carolina 15 years ago and now occurs in St. Croix, Panama, Ghana, West Africa, Seattle, Washington. Being that Virginia is the birthplace of enslavement in North America, I felt it was imperative that we, in Virginia, begin the tradition of Remembrance here.
Our Remembrance ceremony was a deeply spiritual and educational event which began with a beautiful procession of drumming and shekeres we walked down to the beach where we sat in a circle. We burned the sage to honor the Native American /Indian presence for it was on this land which was stolen from the Native Americans/Indians and on this soil where the Africans toiled as enslaved peoples. The sage was to acknowledge the Native spirits who have gone on, to cleanse the space as we paid homage to our African ancestors in the "briny deep."
It was a day of healing, remembering, reflections, lessons learned, stories shared, poetry, dance, dramatic readings, prayers, new friendships made, reconnecting with those friends from before and libation as we celebrated the lives of those millions of Africans who never made it off the enslavement ships alive. An excerpt of "Crossing a Deep River: A Ritual Drama in Three Movements"; a play written by Dr. Joanne Braxton, Director and Founder of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William and Mary was performed by Professor Green. We were all moved by context of the play and Professor Greens artistic expression of the piece. As well, the student who accompanied Prof. Green was a wonderful addition to the performance.
In attendance at the ceremony were members of ASALH, Project 1619, city officials, members of United Souls Band, Ile Nago, Akeru Ministries, members of Virginia Reggae, members of Poetics and members of the community. In all, there were about 60people at the ceremony, some passersby that said they heard the drumming and saw the white clothing in a distance and came to be with us.
The libation given was incredibly powerful; moving many to tears. As the group shouted, ASHE" we released the flowers into the water,. It was then that a bird appeared circling above us. The bird swooped down into the water in a straight line, disappeared for a moment and reappeared above the water and flew straight back up into the sky. The bird did this 3 or 4 times, diving into the water and then ascending into the sky. It was such a moment and I couldn't help but point the bird and call out "Sankofa." In unison, we shouted "Sankofa" several times as we watched the bird soar.
Sankofa reminds us to know where we have come from so that we know where we are going. This Inaugural Remembrance ceremony reminded us of the importance of looking back and we are already looking forward to celebrating and honoring our ancestors next year.
Join us Saturday, June 8, 2013 at Buckroe Beach to honor them once again. As Deborah Wright, Co-Founder of the Charleston South Carolina remembrance tradition says, "If we don't remember them, who will?"
Let us do this in Remembrance of them!
Photo credit; Gerry Navarette of Visionaries Photography