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, Founder & Executive Director

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ritual of Remembrance created for Contraband Day, Saturday, May 25, 2013

National Park Service News Release For Immediate Release: May 13, 2013 Contacts: Eola Dance, National Park Service, eola_dance@nps.gov, 757-722-3678 Phyllis Terrell, Fort Monroe Authority, pterrell@fmauthority.org, 757-251-2754 Fort Monroe to Commemorate the “Contraband Decision” and “Contrabands” on the Road to Emancipation Fort Monroe, VA – In recognition of the 152nd Anniversary of the “Contraband Decision” the National Park Service, Fort Monroe Authority, Hampton Department of Parks and Recreation, Contraband Historical Society, and Project 1619 are sponsoring a day of commemorative events May 25, 2013, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Join us at the Fort Monroe Theatre at 10:00 am for the Contraband Ritual of Remembrance & Opening Ceremony, immediately followed by the play Battle from Darkness to Light: Mary Peake First Teacher of the Freed People; and hourly living history walking tours of the historic fort leaving from Cannon Park at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm. All events are free and open to the public. Free parking available onsite. Please respect residents and do not park in reserved spaces. Bring a picnic basket and spend the day enjoying all that Fort Monroe has to offer. About the Program– This day of commemorative events captures the complexity of Civil War history at Fort Monroe and explores the individual stories that help history come alive; Superintendent Talken-Spaulding stated “the impact of General Benjamin Butler’s “Contraband Decision” and the experiences of freedom seekers in the “Contraband,” community represents a key paradigm shift in Civil War history that forever changed the realities of slavery and freedom in the United States; we hope that you will join us and investigate our Nation’s history at Fort Monroe.” 10:00 am at the Fort Monroe Theatre, 42 Tidball Rd, Hampton, VA 23651, participate in the Contraband Ritual of Remembrance, orchestrated by Sankofa Projects, giving honor to all ancestors who paved the way for us today. This opportunity for reflection and reconciliation includes ancestral drumming and a pouring of libations. 11:00 am at the Fort Monroe Theatre, witness the City of Hampton’s Urban Performing Arts production Battle from Darkness to Light: Mary Peake First Teacher of the Freed People; theatre goers will be treated to this stage play that honors the life of Mary Peake and tells the story of two fictious enslaved mothers who made the brave journey to the contraband camp at Fortress Monroe. The play was written by local playwright, Marie St.Clair and stars the Inner-tainer Theatre Troupe and the music of the Community Spirit Vocal Ensemble, directed by Debra Petteway. 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm Cannon Park, the intersection of Ingalls & Ruckman Rd. just before Main Gate, join us for living history walking tours at the top of each hour as we follow the presumed footsteps of freedom seekers like Martha Ann Fields as portrayed by Ajena Rogers, decedent of the Fields family; consider the politics and consequences of Gen. Benjamin Butler’s “Contraband Decision” at Quarters #1, presented by Tony Gabriele of the Contraband Historical Society; and visit the Algernourne Oak, a living witness to over 400 years of history including the abbreviated assignment of Harriett Tubman to Fort Monroe performance by distinguished interpreter Charmaine Crowell-White. Brief History of the “Contraband Decision” – As the American Civil War commenced and Virginia’s citizens ratified the state’s secession ordinance on May 23, 1861, three enslaved men known to us today as Frank Baker, Sheppard Mallory, and James Townsend fled to Union held Fort Monroe. Major General Benjamin Butler having arrived to his appointment just days prior, was confronted by the men, Butler questioned returning the men to bondage as required by the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 or allowing them sanctuary. Butler reasoned Virginia was no longer part of the United States and therefore the 1850 law did not apply. Further, these enslaved men were being used against the nation and could be retained as “contraband of war.” The news of refuge at Fort Monroe spread quickly and by the end of July 900 freedom seekers; men, women, and children, found their way to Fort Monroe. By their brave actions this powerful event became known as the pivotal “Contraband Decision” and the fort was christened “Freedom’s Fortress”. As the “contraband” community out grew the fort, Gen. Butler authorized the building of the “Grand Contraband Camp” in an abandoned area of Hampton. Over the course of time, more than 10,000 freedom seekers found their way to Freedom’s Fortress and camps in the area leading up to the close of the war in 1865. Like freedom seeker James Apostles Field, who escaped to Fort Monroe in 1862 and was later met by his mother Martha Ann Fields and siblings in 1864. In response to the growing community, the American Missionary Association established schools, hiring Mary Smith Peake in 1861 leading to the establishment of Hampton Normal School, known today, as Hampton University. The need for medical attention led to the recruitment of Harriet Tubman as the head matron of the hospital for African Americans and United States Colored Troops; though she only remained for a few short months due to false promises and poor conditions. The multi-faceted history of Fort Monroe spans over 400 years. Included in the history of the fort, also known as Point Comfort, is the arrival of the first Africans brought to the English colonies. As pointed out in the Presidential Proclamation establishing the National Monument, this “arch of slavery” distinguishes Fort Monroe as witness to the beginning and end of slavery in America. Three years after the “Contraband Decision” the Union supported the enlistment of black regiments resulting in the formation of the USCT, further the decision was a forerunner to President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, and the ratiļ¬cation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in 1865 abolishing slavery in the United States. www.nps.gov -- Chadra Pittman Walke Mother ~ Anthropologist ~ Writer ~ Advocate Founder, COLLAGE www.facebook.com/groups/pariahinthe757 Founder, The Sankofa Projects www.thesankofaprojects.blogspot.com www.facebook.com