Remembering the Middle Passage was a heart-warming ceremony that brought tears to the eyes of many who sat and listened to the transatlantic slave trade and how it impacted the lives of millions of people around the world. The event was held at the Great Hall in the historic Faneuil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts and it was in recognition of the International Day of Remembrance of the Middle Passage and its Abolition.
The ceremony opened up when the rhythm of the African Drums filled the room. Steve O’Neal and the drummers walked down the aisle beating the drums, and everyone clapped along. Rosalyn Fennel from the National Park Service and Mistress of Ceremonies introduced the first speaker Red Green who is from the Massachusetts Tribe. Green shared the struggles of the Native Americans, the enslavement and the journey of slavery that was faced by the indigenous people. Shortly afterward, the Vocalist Thunder Voice did a solo rendition of the song “Aboriginal Warrior.”
What was unique about this event is that there were various speakers from different religions who shared the historical accounts of slavery, words of empowerment and healing. There were reflections from the Catholic, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish and the Quaker Faith.
There were also speakers from various entities and government groups who shared some vital information.
Superintendent Michael Creasey of the National Park Service stated that the man who Faneuil Hall was named after, the building that hosted the ceremony, partook in slavery. Creasey shared that Peter Faneuil owned slaves, benefited from their labor and played a significant role in the slave trade in Boston.
Beverley Morgan-Welch, Executive Director of the Museum of African American History (MAAH) expressed that MAAH is one of the many historic buildings in Boston built off of the hard work of slaves who were brutally overseen by their slave masters while working in harsh weather conditions.
Additionally, Boston once served as a Middle Passage port city, in which enslaved Africans were transported and sold during Slave Auctions. Slavery in Boston began in 1638.
Throughout the event, the audio sounds of the ocean waves momentarily filled the Great Hall; this represented the rough waters that began the transatlantic journey of over 500,000 enslaved Africans from their perspective countries to colonies and then to the United States of America. Thousands of slaves did not survive, dying from starvation and diseases. Many were thrown overboard to be devoured by sharks when they died or if they were severely ill. Professor Anthony Menelik Van Der Meer demonstrated libations on behalf of those slaves who perished during the trips.
The ceremony concluded with Rev. Nancy Taylor who asked the audience to call out the name of the slave whose name and date of death featured on the back of the program that was distributed to event-goers as they walked into the Great Hall. The name that I had was Toby who died on December 7, 1718. The entire audience shouted out the names in unison. This portion of the event was riveting and very powerful.
In conclusion, this was the first ceremony held in recognition of the International Day of Remembrance of the Middle Passage and its Abolition. It will be held annually on August 23rd.
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