2nd Annual International Day of Remembrance at Buckroe Beach, Hampton Virginia by Chadra Pittman Walke
The tradition of Remembrance seeks to honor the millions of African men, women and children who perished during the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade.
Remembrance 2013 was a beautiful outpouring of the diversity of our Hampton community and many others who traveled from Ohio, North Carolina, Richmond, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, Maryland to remember with us. The 175 people who gathered at Buckroe Beach came to honor these ancestors , recognize the importance of our shared history and acknowledge the need to heal from the wounds of our collective past. The sky held back the rain and we were spared from the pending storm which was looming above our heads.
Partners for this year’s event were: Project 1619, Inc., the Contraband Historical Society, Hampton Parks and Recreation and the Hampton History Museum. The participants on the program gave freely of their time and talents to pay tribute and celebrate these ancestors. The overwhelming sentiment was that Remembrance was cathartic, educational, spiritual, celebratory filled with cultural expressions which honored whose final resting place became the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
For a second year in row, Remembrance connected the Commonwealth of Virginia with this International movement of healing and remembrance as we simultaneously poured a powerful and moving communal libation. We poured with South Carolina, New York, Seattle, Washington, Panama and Ghana, West Africa as we are one community remembering our past, our history and the lives of our ancestors. The city of Hampton is where enslavement began in 1619 with the first "20 and odd" Africans landing at Point Comfort, now Fort Monroe and Fort Monroe became known as "Freedom's Fortress" with thousands of enslaved Africans seeking freedom during the Civil war and became known as "Contrabands of War". Remembrance in Hampton is incredibly significant as this is the place where slavery began in North America. Remembrance seeks to heal from that painful past and preserve the memory of those who perished during the Transatlantic voyage.
We are doing as Toni Cade Bambara suggested many years ago- "we are tapping into that ancestral presence" in the waters and we do this in Remembrance of them with honor, respect and love!