Welcome to The Sankofa Projects blogspot!!!

"In the spirit of Sankofa, reach back and fetch your history
and your culture so that you will take purposeful steps into the future."
~ Chadra Pittman Walke

For more info or to schedule a program contact us:

757-317-0001

thesankofaprojects@gmail.com



Monday, October 23, 2017

World Renowned Biofilm and Conversations with the Film Makers Karen Thorsen and Douglas Dempsey- Saturday, October 28th at 2pm at the Fort Monroe Theatre

"From Fort El Mina to Fort Monroe: Exploring Sites of Memory and Uncovering the Face of Humanity."CampFire Talk at the National Monument site of Fort Monroe

On a breezy yet warm summer night, about 20 people gathered by the CampFire at Fort Monroe, just steps away from Outlook beach to attend my lecture, "From Fort El Mina to Fort Monroe: Exploring Sites of Memory and Uncovering the Face of Humanity."
Over the past 26 years,my work in public education and community organizing has been centered around educating and "giving voice to untold stories" of who Arundati Roy refers to the "preferably unheard". The preferably unheard are the marginalized and forgotten amongst us who are often left put of the narratives. My work with Sankofa celebrates the freedom fighters and pioneers who paved the way, reminding others to remember their individual and our collective past, honoring the Ancestors through Remembrance, fighting for social justice and ensuring that the names and faces of those who have contributed to the history and culture find their rightful place in the historical record. Friday night, I discussed several historic sites of memory; these pivotal places where the African American experience and history holds memory, looking at the crimes against humanity from the Native American genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, to the massacre which happened to the millions of Africans during the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. The common factor with all these crimes against humanity is the dehumanization of another. When racism, prejudice, hatred, discriminating ideologies, xenophobia, violations to the human spirit cloud our vision, we are unable to see one another's humanity and we lack the compassion for one another. The intent with my work is to create safe spaces for the exchange of ideas around difficult topics like race and racism. If wish to change the paradigm, it is only through open and honest communication we can begin. The display of hatred demonstrated in Charlottesville, VA and massacre that took 9 innocent lives in Charleston, SC proves to us once again that the lingering sentiments around race are alive and well. This image below is from the Fort El Mina Castle in Ghana, West Africa. It is "The Door of No Return" which was the final place Africans saw before they boarded the enslavement ships and set a sail for 2- 3 month horrific voyage of the Middle Passage. This Door hold memory of African Ancestors whom many never made it off the enslavement ships alive; their humanity was not acknowledged.
This is an image of Fort Monroe which is the site where enslavement and emancipation occurred so much so that the tag line for the Fort is Where Freedom Lives .
Slavery was not an accident as Former President Nelson Mandela attests. Neither were any of the other atroceties that have occurred at the hand of man to his fellow man; Wounded Knee, 9/11, the massacre of 9 innocent people in Charleston, SC. Slavery was a lucrative business and the common man as well as the President of the United States was involved in this brutal business as was President Thomas Jefferson as cited in the ad below.
Sincere thanks to Darcy Nelson Sink for her support of my work and the invitation to speak, R. Robert Kelly, Denise and Aaron Firth for your assistance that evening, to Robin Reed thank you for the great introduction and remarks afterwards, and Superintendent Terry E. Brown thank for your continuous support of my work with Sankofa, for asking questions to encourage the audience to move beyond their comfort zones, to the rangers present and the wonderful audience who attended and shared their truths, I appreciate your presence and thank you and to Mr. Hugh Harrell of the Weyanoke Association, thank you for the beautiful impromptu song by the fire! If we are to uncover the face of humanity, we must engage one another, possibly be uncomfortable for a time yet be brutally honest and we must choose to move beyond our privilege. Are you willing to move beyond yours? Indeed, I hope you are for our humanity is bound up in each others. We are our only hope.
#DoWhatYouLove #CampFireLecturer #TheSANKOFAProjects

Monday, September 11, 2017

9/11 Reflections 16 years later... at the NY African Burial Ground National Monument

9/11 Reflections... This is a photo taken at the NY African Burial Ground site in 1996. I am pictured here (blonde locs, hands raised or talking with my hands as usual) giving a tour at 290 Broadway in 1996; the site where 419 African men, women and children would be excavated and where it is believed 10-20,000 Africans are buried in the 5-6 acre African Burial Ground(ABG). For 4 years I worked at the #WorldTradeCenter as a Public Educator and Media Coordinator for the NY African Burial Ground Project. I LOVED my job!!! I gave hundreds of tours annually of the sacred ABG site, the artwork inside of 290 to commemorate the Ancestors still buried there and the Foley lab where the artifacts were housed. Here is where I first heard "SANKOFA" and where I made life long friendships. This work set the stage for what would become my life's work involving giving voice to the untold stories of our Ancestors. I listened to the whisper given to me in a dream and left that job however, my new job was in the World Trade Wall Street area. I was drawn to that area, drawn to the story of my Ancestors who were interred there. In April 2001, I moved to Richmond, Va. On September 11, 2001 I watched as the first plane went into Tower 1. My building sat adjacent to Tower 2. I watched in disbelief as this majestic edifice where I spent 4 years of my life crumbled and I was horrified to think of the precious and innocent lives lost on that day and before, thoughts of the brave men and women who lost their lives helping others will never be forgotten, the African Burial ground will never be forgotten.
16 years later...and I am still telling the stories of our Ancestors and honoring them through our annual event at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, VA. REMEMBRANCE, where we honor our Ancestors who perished in the Middle Passage and the Transatlantic Trade. This is my work. This is SANKOFA!! #REMEMBRANCE #TheSANKOFAProjects Photography by Bill Thomas, Temeka Diouf, Terez Dean and Dianna Chappela Lewis

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Racism is REAL---The Face of Hate Revealed in Charlottesville

The unimaginable occurred in Charlottesville ... it is a horrible tragedy; the display of hatred was given license since the election to rear its ugly headed for all of us to see. Yes Beloveds, the boogie man is real and came to life and walked with torches down the streets chanting hatred and spewing venom of African Americans, people of the Jewish faith and the LGBTQI community. Tragically, another innocent life was lost, many were injured and this looked like the Civil Rights marches of the 1960's except it was mostly a sea of white who took to the streets. The country is in shock, so many are in disbelief that RACISM still exists.... I remember after President Obama took office, every media source was spouting this "post RacialAmerica" rhetoric because we had our 1st Black President but many of us knew the truth. We paid attention to commentary about his birth place and disbelief of his citizenship, the racist cartoons, nooses hanging from trees, the racist comments about Michelle and the criticism about her beautiful chocolate arms being exposed. We knew what this was plain and simple!!! Racism. For those of us who have "stood at the shorelines" as Queen Mother Audre once said and faced racism first hand, we are not surprised by Charlottesville, like Charleston, like the air strikes on a American citizens in Tulsa- Black Wall Street), like Philadelphia and the bombing of the MOVE community, like Ferguson, like Flint...we remember the charred bodies burned at the stakes, the lynch mobs, the "strange fruit" hanging, the dismembered bodies, the denial of humanity and know that nothing has changed, sadly, racism is still alive and well in the US of A.
In college in the 1990's, I was approached by a group of rowdy teens of European descent and one biracial teen who refused to look me in the eyes while the others chanted "go back to Africa". They made it clear to me that I wasn't welcome in Morgantown, West Virginia. I was also called "n*gger" by some frat boys as I was walking from class. I stood outside the frat house in disbelief and challenged them to come outside but they never showed their cowardly faces. I was 19 years old, from the Bronx, New York and had never experienced blatant racism first hand nor had I ever been called a "n*gger"; at least publicly. This was the moment my life changed and I was forced to deal with racism. After two years in West VA, my mother withdrew me from the school because she feared I might be harmed. I grew up in a community filled with people who looked like me but many didn't. We were a mixture of African Americans, Latinos, Italians, , Irish from all faiths and we existed peacefully, until the Benson Hurst incident. Although,I am certain in the safety of our individual homes, things were said, racism reared its ugly head but in our community we existed as a community of people who looked out for one another. My childhood friends were of all ethnicities, race didn't come up much as a child, I suppose my parents shielded me from its horror. So this focus on my ethnicity, racism spewed my way was a shock to the system. In 2005, my neighbors mother came into town and I waved and said hello to her--- she said nothing, didn't wave and all I got back was a blank stare. Puzzled, I asked my neighbor if her mom had a hearing impairment bc she looked right at me but didn't reply. My neighbor embarrassedly said that "my mother doesn't like Black people nor does she speak to black people." On Mother's Day, in 2015 an irate Euro man called me a terrible array of epithets using the n word and referring to me as a female dog. I reference this because racism is real and for many of us it has persisted for generations. So while many of you are in shock over Charlottesville, many of us are not. We see confederate flags on cars and houses and t shirts worn proudly. We see the utter disrespect and hatred and are aware of this "condemnation of blackness", we see the Anti-semitism and homophobia. The hatred and prejudice in Charlottesville doesn't surprise us at all!!! This Race war began in 1492 and hasn't ceased. As a woman of Native and African bloodlines, my Ancestors have experienced insurmountable horror on this American soil, land stolen, have plowed the field picking tobacco and cotton, fingers bloody, hearts heavy burying loved ones killed by hatred.
Beloveds, the time has come for YOU to pick a side and denounce the support of the hatred and call white supremacy, the isms and the phobias out once and for all! NO time to sit idly by. It is time to ACT and let your position be clear!!!!
Even after all of this, I still believe that the good will outweigh the evil. I still believe in Humanity and am working tirelessly to preserve what's left of it!!!! What about you beloved? What will you do??? Will you allow your privilege to keep you comfortable or will you find the courage to speak? Where will you stand???

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SANKOFA's 6th Annual REMEMBRANCE-Honoring the "African Bones of the Briny Deep" at Buckroe Beach for the 6th Year

For the 6th year in a row, The Sankofa Projects hosted its Annual International Day of Remembrance ceremony on Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 11:00am EST on Buckroe Beach in Hampton, VA.
PHOTOS ABOVE BY BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY “Over the nearly four centuries of the (Transatlantic) slave trade, millions of African men, women and children were savagely torn from their homeland, herded onto ships, and dispersed all over the so called ‘New World’, according to noted historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke. “What happened to those Africans who never made it off the enslavement ships alive? What about those who mutinied on the ships? What about those Africans who were cast off into the Atlantic Ocean and left to drown? Who will remember them; who will tell their story? asks Chadra Pittman Walke, Founder & Executive Director of The Sankofa Projects. "SANKOFA will and has for the past 6 years." replies Pittman Walke
PHOTO BY DIANA CHAPELLE LEWIS OF 757 PHOTOGRAPHY *********** PHOTOS BELOW BY BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
Tributes to the Ancestors/Remembrance ceremonies were spearheaded by author and activist Toni Cade Bambara in 1987 when she made a plea for the community to remember our African Ancestors who perished in the Middle Passage. She called on us to remember those "African Bones in the Briny deep." In 2012, The Sankofa Projects answered that call and Remembrance at Buckroe Beach was born. Annually, The Sankofa Projects gives voice to this injustice and educates the public about the perilous journey of the Middle Passage which consumed the lives of so many during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
LEFT AND BELOW PHOTOS COURTESY OF DIANNA CHAPPELE LEWIS OF 757 PHOTOGRAPHY
“The Middle Passage is the untold chapter in the annals of slavery. Remembrance is a spiritual ceremony and a communal gathering which honors the millions of African men, women and children who perished during the ‘Middle Passage’ and throughout the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. Millions of Africans lost their lives and they were never given a proper burial. Remembrance is a celebration of their lives and is the funeral these Africans never received.” says Pittman Walke. This Year Congressman Bobby Scott attended and gave remarks.
PHOTOS ABOVE BY TEMEKA DIOUF
Annually hundreds make the pilgrimage to the city of Hampton to participate in this historic event. “Through Remembrance, the community has carved out a sacred space on Buckroe Beach to heal, reflect and ‘attempt’ to reconcile this tragic past on land which was once illegal for Africans Americans to stand upon during the racially segregated time of Jim Crow. Hosting Remembrance in Hampton is historically significant to the narrative of enslavement because Point Comfort is the birthplace of slavery and Fort Monroe is where the seeds of freedom were sown with the Contraband Decision in 1861. We acknowledge the beginning of slavery and the end of slavery and now, through Remembrance, we acknowledge the horror of what happened in the Middle. (Passage)” says Pittman Walke.
PHOTOS BY TEREZ DEAN The Ritual of Remembrance included: educational presentations by Dr. Arthur Carter, Angela Harris of SouthhEast CARE Coalition and Blue; traditional African drumming, African and Modern dance; Tributes dedicated to Native Americans/First Nations people, Bay Shore Beach and the Freedom Fighters who lost their lives in to Black Lives Matter, Drum Tribute to the family of and in honor of Walter E. Walker, Jr., Theatrical presentations, Poetry, Meditation, and remarks by Hampton Roads Sacred Goddesses, Traditional African and African American spirituals. Photo by Bill Thomas of Thirdiimage Photography
The program features a Kemetic Opening of the Way by Priest John Spruce, Priestess Jerrie Spruce and Priestess Amani Dawson, a Drum Call to the Ancestors lead by Goddesses Kerri Thurman, Bonney Barnes, Brothers William Bowser and Anpu John Robinson, with performances by Beauty for Ashes of Riddick Contemporary Dance, the Legacy of Weyanoke, Wazee African Culture and Dance and A song by Jeannie Mosley and Faith Gilliam.
PHOTO BY LISA WINSTEAD SLOAN At 12:00 noon an International Libation for Remembrance will be orchestrated by Baba Orimalade Ogunjimi of Ile Nago. Occurring simultaneously across the United States and internationally, Communal Libations will take place in the cities where Remembrance and Tributes to the Ancestors are held.
PHOTO BY DIANA CHAPPELE LEWIS OF 757 PHTOTGRAPHY
*************** IMAGES BELOW BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTOS BY BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE PHOTOGRPAHY Our sponsors are Nserewa Adorned, Hampton History Museum and the City of Hampton Parks and Recreation. This event is free and open to the public. We ask that all respect the sanctity of this sacred ceremony.
] PHOTOS BY TEMEKA DIOUF
PHOTO BY CINDY CUTLER AND GLORIA AND WILLIAM BOWSER
PHOTO ABOVE BY BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTOS BY LISA WINSTEAD SLOAN Join us next year on Saturday, June 9, 2018 --same time--same place to honor our African Ancestors !!!
PHOTOS BELOW BILL THOMAS OF THIRDIIMAGE
Two Photos above Terez Dean JOIN US SATURDAY, JUNE 9, 2018 BUCKROE BEACH IN HAMPTON VA AT 11AM TO GIVE VOICE TO THE UNTOLD STORY AND TO HONOR OUR AFRICAN ANCESTORS OF THE MIDDLE PASSAGE AND CELEBRATE THE CONTINUITY OF OUR CULTURE!!!
ALL CONTENT OF THIS BLOG IS PROTECTED UNDER COPYRIGHT LAWS OF THE USA. MAY BE REPRODUCED WITH PERMISSION. PHOTOS REQUIRE PERMISSION OF PHOTOGRAPHERS FOR REPRODUCTIONS; CONTACT THESANKOFAPROJECTS@GMAIL.COM