RECOGNIZING THE TRANS-ATLANTIC AFRICAN SLAVE TRADE
400TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST LANDING, in British North America, 1619
We Came to Remember
By Phyllis Jane Brown ©2019
We came from across the water,
From beyond the borders,
From around the nation.
We came to remember
To find strength,
To feel connection with emotions
those twenty ancestors must have felt then, in 1619,
reeling with terrors of the torturous trek away from villages,
forlorn at our Motherland’s shores,
trapped in the horror of the dungeons,
suffering the shark-stalked Middle Passage;
longing for their distraught kin,
grasping to recall their proud heritage.
Anthony, Isabella and the others 400 years ago
From Africa to America
Stepping out of the boat…
into the frightening—the new—the wonder … the ‘fo day bells.
“We have come over a way
that with tears has been watered.
We have come treading our path
through the blood of the slaughtered….” 1
We have come in 2019–
To look into the eyes of thousands like us—who dare
To think deeper thoughts,
To assess the literal,
evaluate not only evidence,
but also judge frequency.
We have come desiring
Collective work and responsibility,
We have come
For the first baby William Tucker and our children
For the Sankofa,
For the Peace,
For the More,
For the Action beyond reaction.
Therefore, we will continue the conversations
of this 2019 Recognition, August 23-25
and hear the four bells
with purpose, to build anew.
As our ancestors stepped warily,
yet courageously off a boat’s ramp into different lives,
We will take twelve steps–warily, never to forget,
but courageously to ramp up whatever good we’ve done before–
making a difference henceforth–
1 James Weldon Johnson. “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
2 Dr. Maulana Karenga. Nguzu Saba: Seven Principles of Kwa