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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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

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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

On a breezy yet warm summer night, the community 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