AJC Reports: Tracing 400 Year Journey to Slavery

 

https://www.ajc.com/news/centuries-later-atlantans-make-trip-ghana-door-return/RW6hdsGJveW7kD73LKQHKI/

Debra Santos (blue scarf), an Atlanta Airbnb host, who is visiting Ghana as part of that nation’s “Year of the Return.” African Americans have been encouraged to return to Africa this year to mark 400 years of slavery. “My face says it all,” Santos said of the photograph, taken in an Elmina Castle dungeon where dozens of female captives would have been held before departing into slavery.

Photo: Courtesy Debra Santos

EXCLUSIVE: Centuries later, Atlantans make trip to Ghana’s “Door of No Return”

King Historical Site, APEX team up to bring grim reminder home

For many thousands, it was the last glimpse of Africa.

Through a door, made narrow so that they would have to walk through in single file, Africans trudged out of the darkness of Ghana’s Elmina Castle or nearby Cape Coast Castle into the blinding sunlight bouncing off the Atlantic Ocean. Then they were chained and stacked like cordwood onto awaiting boats.

 

That “Door of No Return” was the grim gateway west to a life of enslavement in Brazil, the Caribbean, and America.

“When you walk out of that door today, even now, it is terrifying,” said Debra Santos, an Atlantan visiting Ghana now. “So they had to be terrified to look out in the distance and see no land and know they weren’t coming back.”

But thousands of African Americans have made the trip back to Ghana in recent months. Many have traveled from Atlanta, which has one of the largest Ghanaian populations in the U.S.

Ghana, part of the Gold Coast, a major departure point during the slave trade, recently launched “The Year of Return” campaign. The country, still coming to terms with the role Africans played in the capture and sale of Africans, as well as slavery’s impact on the nation’s development, is urging American descendants of slaves to return home even for just a few days.

Nene Kisseih, his daughters Korleki and Audri Kisseih and his cousin Gabriella look out of Elmina Castle’s Door of No Return. The door is adorned with gifts and wreaths left by others.
Photo: Photo Courtesy Nene Kisseih

At the same time, as America marks 400 years since the first African slaves arrived in the U.S., Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park is trying to acknowledge what that door means in the starkest of ways. As part of a new exhibition entitled “400 Years” that opened Aug. 26, a giant photo of a door and mannequins of slaves greet tourists in the atrium.

A block down Auburn Ave., as part of the exhibition, the African-American Panoramic Experience (APEX) Museum, the city’s oldest black cultural repository, is exhibiting “Africa: The Untold Story.” In that more detailed account, visitors can walk through a life-sized replica of “Door of No Return.”

The exhibitions, a glimpse into the Middle Passage and American slavery, are being described by the park and museum as a “journey over four centuries to America and hopes as a people, past and present, for racial equity and healing.”

The Door of No Return saw thousands of Africans leave the continent for the last time to a world of slavery.
Photo: Photo Courtesy Courtesy Arletha Livingston

Last week, standing outside the door replica, Dan Moore, who founded the APEX in 1978, watched silently as visitors tentatively walked in and were bombarded with a recording of waves, mixed in with screams and the shuffling of chains.

“Everybody that I have talked to, who has visited the actual Door of No Return, tell me that when they walk into that space, they can feel the presence of their ancestors,” Moore said. “Nothing was as horrific as the slavery that the Europeans modeled. They stripped Africa of its culture, its religion, its resources, its people.”

From ‘20 and odd’ Negroes to 12 million

On Aug. 26, 1619, the first Africans to arrive as slaves on American shores landed in Port Comfort, Virginia. Those “20 and odd Negroes” created the foundation for more than 200 years of chattel slavery in America.

It will never be known how many Africans were captured and stolen from Africa, but it is estimated that more than 12 million of them were shipped across the Atlantic over a span of 400 years. Roughly 389,000, or about 3% of the enslaved, landed in America.

Korleki Kisseih and Audri Kisseih were taken to Ghana for the first time earlier this month by their Ghana-born father Nena Kisseih to mark Korleki’s 14th birthday. The sisters stand behind an iron gate in one of the Elmina Castle dungeons, which would have been used to hold captured Africans bound for slavery.
Photo: Courtesy Nena Kisseih

“The transatlantic slave trade represents the most tragic episode in human history,” said Osagyefou Amoatia Ofori Panin, the king of Kyebi, in Ghana’s Eastern region. “It explains many things, but most importantly the material underdevelopment and the destruction of the communal and humanist social and cultural fabric of African society. The transatlantic slave trade opened the door for colonization and conquest of Africa.”

With “The Year of Return” campaign, “we can rewrite history,” Panin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Africans in the diaspora have a role to play in rebuilding the continent.”

Anxiety and horror

Santos, the Atlantan, made that journey home, setting foot on African soil for the first time on Aug. 20. She was traveling with a group of fellow black Airbnb hosts. They have all returned home. She has extended the trip on her own indefinitely, touched by a crowd of Ghanaians who hugged and rubbed her face when she arrived.

“They kept saying, ‘welcome home, we missed you,’” Santos said. “I don’t know if I had ever felt the spirit, the African spirit, until that very moment. It was awe-inspiring. America is the love of my heart, but Ghana is the love of my soul.”

Still, nothing could have prepared her heart and soul for the rest of the trip.

Debra Santos, outside of Elmina Castle in Ghana. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got to Elmina,” she said. “Nothing could prepare me for it.”
Photo: Courtesy Debra Santos

On Ghana’s coast, Santos visited Elmina Castle and the Cape Coast Castle.

Generally known as holding spaces for captured Africans, it will never be known exactly how many came through the two ports, through the doors and onto ships bound for slavery.

At Elmina, Santos was ushered into a dungeon where women captives were held. By today’s standards, one of the dungeons should probably hold about 30 people. More than 150 would be packed in, with a single window to circulate the dense, hot air, according to historical accounts. Those who survived were carted onto boats.

“When we went to the dungeon, they turned the lights off,” said Santos, who has traced her roots to nearby Ivory Coast. “I had a major anxiety attack. You can feel and sense how horrible it could have felt back then. I did not expect to be so emotional.”

Like outer space

Arletha Livingston knows the feeling.

The director of the Morehouse School of Medicine’s Innovation Lab, Livingston has been going to countries in Africa since 1995, and every trip to Ghana is emotional.

In early August, she tagged along with her sister, a trauma specialist, who guided members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn), through the castles and dungeons.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

They said “send her back” but Speaker @SpeakerPelosi didn’t just make arrangements to send me back, she went back with me ✊🏽

So grateful for the honor to return to Mother Africa with the @TheBlackCaucus and commemorate The Year of Return!

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Shades of Nubian Festival at The Shrine

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN ATLANTA!

The Shades of Nubia Festival is an amazing event that honors the creative genius and achievements of Black Women in the arts. It will provide much needed exposure to the awesome talent of Black Women, that continues to breathe life into our communities through the arts.
Watch these amazing sisters, as they showcase their creative artistry through music, spoken word and dance!
There will be vendors and an auction of amazing art, jewelry and fashion, all curated by way of Black Girl Magic!
*This event will be recorded live and will air on the Black on Purpose Television Network.

BRING THE FAMILY!

*By purchasing a ticket and/or attending this event you give permission to be taped. You give permission for your name, image and likeness to be used worldwide on BOP TV.

Click FOR TICKETS

Black on Purpose Television Network

The largest Black Owned Streaming Television Network in the World

Urban Food Forest, Free Produce by 2021

 

As reported by WSB- TV2.  This is a “must read!

Atlanta creates first food forest in Georgia, largest in U.S.

By: Raisa Habersham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Updated:

ATLANTA – Atlanta residents will have greater access to fresh food thanks to a public “food forest.”

City Council, on a unanimous vote, approved the transformation of 7.1 acres of property near the Lakewood Fairgrounds and Browns Mill Golf Course into a public park and garden. The food forest is the first in Georgia and the largest in the United States, Councilwoman Carla Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill has been in the works since November 2016 when the city accepted an $86,150 grant from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest and Open Space Program. The federal agency has contributed a total of $164,000 to the project, which has additional support from non-profit groups Trees Atlanta and The Conservation Fund.

The green space, currently vacant property, will feature trees, shrubs and vines that produce fruit along with walking trails, a community garden and restored forest and stream-side areas by 2020, according to the legislation.

Smith said residents will be able to pick their produce from trees in the public park free of charge.

“It’s just like going into a park and picking muscadines from a bush,” she said.

Smith said the land was previously owned by Ruby and Willie Morgan, who later sold the property to a developer intending to build townhomes. The plan fell through and the property had sat in disarray until The Conservation Fund purchased it in 2016, she said.

The food forest is part of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ plan to ensure 85% of Atlanta residents are within one-half mile of accessible fresh food by 2021.

In 2017, 36 percent of Atlanta was classified as a food desert, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A quarter of Atlanta residents must travel more than a half-mile to get fresh fruits and vegetables, the USDA said.

The city will purchase the property from The Conservation Fund for $157,384, according to the legislation. The property will be managed by the city Department of Parks and Recreation.

Trees Atlanta, which is already conducting educational programs at the site, has contributed $121,500 to hire part-time staff, including a food forest ranger and community workforce educator. The city will also create a trust fund for outreach efforts related to the food forest.

This article was written by Raisa Habersham, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For more WSB TV2 amazing articles, visit:

Kwanzaa Celebration at Shrine of the Black Madonna

At the Shrine of the Black Madonna in West End, young people help Jumoke Ifetayo light the Kwanzaa candles for the second of seven days of celebration. 

Kwanzaa is started in 1965 by Dr. Maulana Karenga in Chicago.  It is celebrated December 26 – January 1.

The foundation of Kwanzaa are the Seven Principles, or Nguzo Saba. When Dr. Karenga created the kinaracelebration of Kwanzaa he wanted to reflect the best qualities and characteristics of the “first fruit” or harvest festivals that were celebrated throughout Africa. It was these qualities that established the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. (Nguzo Saba is Kiswahili for Seven Principles).*

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“The children will carry on the traditions of the land. So we must teach them the history”, said the narrator.

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These children dance with the rattle instrument, the shekere,  as the narrator tells an African story with drums.

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Rev. Keith Slaughter (above), a WAOK talk show host is tonight’s speaker.  He gives the message entitled, “Stand Your Ground”, in celebration of Day 2, Kujichagulia, self-determination. ‘Stand not to kill people, but to claim what is rightfully ours, what we need…our fair share.  Be truthful and put on the full armour of God as you fight for justice in this world. Pray the righteous will be there for us and beware of the haters!’

Rev. Slaughter’s message was powerful, informative, passionate, on point and short!  He was definitely on his game!

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A packed crowd looks on at the Shrine of the Black Madonna during the 15th Annual Kwanzaa celebration at 960 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.

There will be five more nights of Kwanzaa at the Shrine with speakers including Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore on Saturday 2pm-6pm, and Rev. Derrick Rice on a Faith Panel on Tuesday, 4pm-8pm.  For more information, call (404) 549-8676 or (404) 444-6696.

Also, the Shrine has free Black History classes every Saturday from 1:30pm to 3:30pm.  Plan to attend with your family and friends.

*From:  http://www.holidays.net/kwanzaa/principles.htm

STEM Curriculum Not Concrete!!

 

Below is a list of APS Board members and others elected who should care about how this extra $2.4 million E-SPLOST funds are being spent.  As I mentioned, this School Board vote occurred Monday, Dec. 5.  With so much going on, the media did not do a story.
However, all metro Atlanta educators and residents should be ANGRY that for more than four years APS said they did not have funds to restore the Harper-Archer Middle School Planetarium and Theater.
Now that extra E/SPLOST funds are available, they have voted to use this $2.4 million to upgrade the building exterior (concrete), parking lot (asphalt), and windows (functional, not damaged; GA Power will fund).  Instead, these tax payer funds should be used for STEM/STEAM academic curriculum Resources for our kids…for access for all 52,000 APS students to have their Planetarium and Theater restored.
Please use, this list.  Wear it out!!  Copy and post this list on ALL your social media so people can express their outrage and DEMAND this $2.4 million be reallocated and spent on the four year old STEM/Planetarium curriculum plan that will help improve student academic achievement and test scores.
Let’s overwhelm their emails and phones all next week.  AND, do it again January 7-21 to as we honor Rev. Dr. M.L.King, Jr. We must persist for equity in education, not in concrete!!
This APS decision is NOT ACCEPTABLE!!
However, we can make it happen… WE CAN HAVE THIS DECISION REVERSED WHEN WE CONSISTENT WORK ON AND ISSUE:  Case in point…The Montgomery
Bus Boycott.
LET’S DO THIS!!
In Montgomery, they did not have social media.  We have social media.  LET’S USE IT TO HELP SAVE OUR KIDS by getting this STEM PROJECT funded!!
Thanks in Advance!!

—-

APS BOARD MEMBERS 2018-2021

Jason Esteves, Chair; At-large, 9

Jesteves@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2200 ofc      (404) 802-1204 fax

Cynthia Briscoe Brown, At-large; 8

Cbriscoe_brown@@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2297 ofc

404-376-6080 cell

Kandis Wood Jackson, At-large; 7

Kandis.woodjackson@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2296 ofc

Eshe’ Collins, District 6

Epcollins@atlantapublicschools.us

404-802-2295 ofc

770-765-3802 cell

Erika Y. Mitchell, District 5

Erika.mitchell@apsk12.org

404-802-2294 ofc vmail               404-709-5515 cell

Nancy M. Meister, vice chair; District 4

Nmeister@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2200 ofc vmail               404-488-9014 cell

Michelle D. Olympiadis, District 3

Michelle.olympiadis@apsk12.org

404-802-2292 ofc vmail               404-502-0825 cell

Byron D. Amos, District 2

Bamos@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2200 ofc vmail               404-587-6811 cell

Leslie Grant, District 1

Lgrant@atlantapublicschools.us

404-802-2255 ofc vmail               404-643-9652 cell

Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent 

Suptoffice@atlanta.k12.ga.us

404-802-2820 office

Other elected officials we can get to use their influence to get this STEM/Planetarium funded with our E-SPLOST tax dollars.  As elected officials, our tax dollars also pay their salaries:

State School Superintendent 

Richard Woods

404-657-1175 ofc           404-651-8737 fax

state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.u

State Senator Horacena Tate

Horacena.tate@senate.ga.gov

404-463-8053 ofc            404-893-2119 cell

State Senator Nan Orrock

nan.orrock@senate.ga.gov

(404) 463-8054 ofc

State Senator Nikema Williams

nikema.williams@senate.ga.gov

(404) 656-5035 ofc

State Representative Sheila Jones

sheila.jones@house.ga.gov

404-656-0126 ofc

State Representative Pat Gardner

fran.gardner@house.ga.gov

(404) 656-0265 ofc

State Representative Marie Metze

marie.metze@house.ga.gov

(404) 656-6372 ofc

State Representative David Dreyer

david.dreyer@house.ga.gov

(404) 656-0265 ofc

State Representative Park Cannon

park.cannon@house.ga.gov

(404) 656-7859 ofc

U.S. Congressman John Lewis

john.lewis@mail.house.gov

aaron.ward@mail.house.gov 

(404) 659-0116 ofc

Atlanta Mayor 

Keisha Lance Bottoms

404-330-6100 ofc

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore

fmoore@atlantaga.gov

(404) 330-6052 ofc         (404) 739-9240 fax

Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens – Post 3 At-Large

Adickens@atlantaga.gov

(404) 330-6041 ofc         (404) 739-9250 fax

Atlanta City Councilman Matt Westmoreland – Post 2 Large

mwestmoreland@atlantaga.gov

(404) 330-6302 ofc         (404) 979-3682 fax

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond – Post 1 At-Large

mbond@atlantaga.gov

(404) 330-6770 ofc         (404) 739-4852 fax

Atlanta City Councilwoman Andrea Boone

aboone@atlantaga.gov

(404) 330-6055 ofc         (404) 979-3680 fax

Fulton County Commission Chair Robb Pitts

robb.pitts@fultoncountyga.gov

(404) 613-2330

Fulton County Commissioner Emma Darnell

emma.darnell@fultoncountyga.gov

(404) 612-8222 ofc       (404) 224-3775 fax

Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall

natalie.hall@fultoncountyga.gov  

 404-612-8227  ofc