Jamestown church

The ruined of the Jamestown church is seen here. Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

Around the nation, and even internationally, special observances of the 400th anniversary of the fateful arrival of “20 and odd” captive Africans are being marked. The captives came from the kingdom of Ndongo, Angola, aboard the ship White Lion “at Point Comfort (modern-day Hampton) in the fledgling British Virginia colony about the latter end of August” in 1619.

Two remembrances will mark the start of racial discord in America on Aug. 18 and 20 at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Drive (off Rickenbacker Causeway).

Attendees will be have a chance to revisit and reflect upon the last 20 generations of African presence in English-colonized North America.

Honoring all

“The Year of Return” observance will be on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 2-4 p.m., presented by the South Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP, in conjunction with the national organization’s “Jamestown,Virginia to James Town, Ghana” 7-10-day pilgrimage of African Americans. A district of Accra, the capital, is named James Town, near Fort James, one of the numerous dungeons along the coast of that country where captured Africans were held until they could be sold to slave ships.

The Miami NAACP, with partners United Ghana Association of South Florida and the South Florida Historic Society, will share insights about the pilgrimage. The event will include Native American, traditional African and contemporary prayers, drumming, speakers and performers.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, from 6 p.m. until sunset, an “Emancipation Circle” event, presented in cooperation with the Association of Black Psychologists and South Florida People of Color, will continue the open dialogue ritual, used in traditional African villages.

Attendees to both events can bring offerings of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains, honey, and other such appropriate items (which do not harm the environment) to be placed at the conclusion in honor of Ancestral generations and those yet to come.

A new emphasis

Emphasis is now placed on recognizing the inherited pain of centuries of trauma related to the Transatlantic “slave trade” and to enslavement itself.

Notably, these observances will be a launch pad for the future – the start of the next 400 years, with hopes of being far better for all people, than the last 400.

A special place

These events are being held at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, Miami’s onetime only “Colored Beach” in the segregation era, which is also the site for one of the nation’s longest running annual Ancestral Remembrance of the Middle Passage ceremonies each June.

The park was recently host to Ultra Music Festival, which resulted in funds to operate a long-awaited civil rights museum and the signing of the City of Miami’s agreement with the County to allow bond funding to build the structure.

Historical connections

These Quadricentennial remembrances include awareness of such important dates as the Aug. 17 birthdate of Marcus Garvey; the Aug. 23 start of the Haitian Revolution; the Aug. 28 March on Washington; and the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer” of anti-Black riots around the country in 1919.

Admission to the remembrance events is free. For more information, visit https://virginiakeybeachpark.net/.

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