Libation, Crafts and Education as Sankofa celebrates Hampton's Heritage Day on April 15, 2017
April 15th celebrates Hampton's Heritage Day and the International Children's Festival!
For the 4th year, The Sankofa Project has participated in Hampton's Annual Heritage Day. This event, put on y the Hampton History Museum is a day of commemoration of the three cultures; the Native, the European settlers and the Africans, who laid the foundation for the city of Hampton! Heritage Day was formerly known as Landing Day which "celebrated" the English arrival. The HHM decided to expand the day to include the Native and the African who were integral to the foundation of the city. When I think about Hampton Day, I am immediately drawn to the sculpture created by Lawrence Noble which sits in Carousel Park. The statue has 3 depictions of three different cultures, facing three different directions. I've always thought the symbolism of the images on the statue facing different directions is symbolic for the three cultures, three perspectives, three histories that came together in this one place. The Native were already here in what we now call Hampton and for nearly 12,000 years all of the Commonwealth was Indian territory before European contact. The Europeans settlers came to the "New World" escaping religious persecution in search for a new life and then there are the millions of Africans who were brought against their will during the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade. Three different feelings about this land these three cultures would eventually call their home.
I was invited to perform a Libation during the opening ceremony while Greg Stephenson gave the Native Thanksgiving Address. Seamus McGrann of the Hampton History Museum served as our emcee and is the arms and legs behind this event. The Sankofa Projects spent the day with children and their families making African inspired crafts, Storytelling and Educating the community about the importance of Heritage.
During the Libation, I shared that while today April 15th is known as "Tax Day" for many this day represents something else. As part of the mission of Sankofa is to give voice to untold history, during the libation I shared that April 15, 1947 is also the day when Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier and stepped to the mound for the Dodgers. We can only imagine what that must've felt like for him...walking to the mound amidst jeers and racial epithets from some in the crowd and then the cheers from those were filled with pride at the accomplishment. This is the work of Sankofa- to fill in the missing pages of the historical record so that it accurately reflects the contributions which African descended people have made to America and the world. The story of #42 aka Jackie Robinson is one of those stories. Sadly history has neglected to acknowledge the plethora of people and cultures who have contributed to America and all these stories need to be known. As a humanity, our lives are richer when we can see the diversity of people who have changed the course of history. So today we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and I pour a libation for him. Robinson was a pioneer who paved the way in the midst of Jim Crow,a racially tumultuous time in this country and we honor his talent, courage and perseverance to reach his goals.
On this day, Hampton's Heritage Day, we enjoyed a beautiful, sunny day in our great city of Hampton; explored different cultures, enjoyed delicious cuisines from around the world, danced to National and International music, and at our Sankofa tent we kept the children and their families busy making African crafts and teaching them about the proverb of Sankofa and the importance of Heritage. It was a wonderful day for the community to come together and celebrate individual heritage and acknowledge our shared past.
Crafts, Storytelling and Education by The Sankofa Projects
Image by Peter Cole
Legacy of Weyanoke performing
Looking forward to next year!!