On Sunday, November 13, 2016, The Sankofa Projects honored the legend, freedom fighter and liberator on the 185th year marking his execution which was on November 11, 1831. We gathered on the land where Nat Turner was born and plotted the historic rebellion in Southampton, VA.
When I founded The Sankofa Projects in 2012, I created this organization as a vehicle for the community to "REACH BACK and FETCH"- true to the meaning of SANKOFA--FETCH our history, culture and spirituality. Throughout the year, we host educational and cultural programs and engage in social justice work as we believe that as Brian Stevenson says that "slavery didnt end---it evolved." We also honor the pioneers that paved the way like NASA Pioneer Katherine Johnson, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Pearl Bailey and countless others who changed the course of history. Through our annual event, REMEMBRANCE which we created in 2012, we gather at Buckroe to pay homage to the millions of African ancestors who lost their lives, were thrown into or jumped to their deaths resisting slavery during the Middle Passage. SANKOFA's work honors the past, present and looks to the future. We fill in the missing pages of the historical record so that history reflects those Africans who have contributed and have not received their recognition.
When I first learned of the Nat Turner film- I was so excited to see the film. Unfortunately with the resurfacing of the rape allegations, I decided that I could not financially support the film as I don't support any aspect of rape culture--regardless of acquittal. Remember Travyon Martin, Sandra Bland's and Freddie Gray's murders were acquitted so acquittal doesn't mean innocence. For me, I could not support but I respected others decisions to see the film. I decided three weeks ago, that if I am not to see the film--how can I fulfill this desire to learn more of this history and create an opportunity for others to learn and decided that the time was now for us to visit the land and learn for ourselves the story of Nat Turner. My job as an educator is to teach and as a community organizer to create spaces for education and healing and activism. The time was now to take the pilgrimage.
I created a flyer and people graciously shared it. Thank you for sharing the event. Some of us caravanned to the site, some met us there, 2 sistahs drove from Washington, DC to participate in this event. Some travelled on their own and we all convened at the Nat Turner Library.
My spirit is still on FIRE and heart is FULL from the day. We were educated by Elder Brother Halif Khalif Khalifah, we visited historic sites, we talked and broke bread together and learned the true history of Nat Turner from his bloodline. We drummed, shekered, poured libations on the ground and HONORED this warrior and the other ancestors who gave their lives for freedom!!! We engaged in a great discussion about the film and Ancestor Nat's life. We closed the day with the beginning of the red moon. Grateful, honored, inspired !!!
I am eternally grateful those of you who joined Sankofa on this inaugural trip to the Nat Tuner Land. Thank you again Elder Khalifah for opening your doors and liberating our minds. This event was the first of SANKOFA's annual pilgrimage to the Kujichaguilia Village so stay tuned for what is next beloveds.
I was called to do this work honoring the Ancestors 25 years ago when I began my work at the New York African Burial Ground and I am honored and humbled to do this work still.