Lecture with Ann Chinn, Executive Director of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project

Ann Chinn, Executive Director of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project
October 9, 2013
1:00-2:00PM refreshments included
Crystal Room, Alumnae Hall Building at 194 Meeting Street
All are welcome to attend

Please join us for a special seminar featuring Ann Chinn, Executive Director of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP), an initiative designed to address the transatlantic human trade, slavery, and remembrance, provides an opportunity for local residents, states, and the nation to begin to reconstruct traditional interpretations of an era in US history that is wrought with shame, anger, denial, and guilt.

Using the Voyages Transatlantic Slave Trade Database created by Professors David Eltis and David Richardson, the MPCPMP identifies the documented places of first arrival of Africans to the United States. To date, there are forty of these ports on the East and Gulf coasts – from New Hampshire to Texas. This immediately challenges the common perception that African enslavement was a southern phenomenon. With the exception of Maine and Vermont, all the states that comprised the original thirteen and bordered the Atlantic Ocean accepted and maintained Africans in captivity. “Owning” a person of African descent brought status and wealth to families throughout early America. Not many people in the developing nation were opposed to this practice. National and state laws, customs, as well as social and religious practices and values, routinely supported the institution of slavery until the end of the Civil War.

Once this history is acknowledged, the next undertaking is to tell the story and to tell it locally. In each port city and state, all members of the community – descendants of enslaved Africans, Native Americans, descendants of Europeans, other ethnicities, and diverse faith groups – participate in a public ceremony that honors and remembers the Africans who died in the ocean crossing as well as those who survived and were vital to developing the nation. 

Learn more about MPCPMP and its work, and the challenges of commemorating this difficult history.