By Parlee Jones
On August 20, 1619, the first ship of enslaved Afrikans reached the shores of the United States. Official documents record “20 and
odd negroes” aboard a ship landing in Jamestown, Virginia, marking the
beginning of chattel slavery in the United States ofAmerikkka.
2019 marks the 400-year anniversary of this monumental moment
in our country’s history – though it is rarely ever acknowledged, if at all.
While this history and others like it are swept under the rug nationally, it is deeply important for us to hold space for and remember the forgotten narratives of those who came before us with our family, friends and community.
While there is no way to ever know exactly how many people were stolen from West Afrika and brought to the “New” World, scholars have estimated approximately 10 million Afrikan people survived the three-weeklong Middle Passage, ending up in parts of South America, the Caribbean and the United States.
Enslaved people were forced to labor under the threat of constant gratuitous violence.
The fear that they or someone they loved could be beaten, killed or sold away lead to enslaved people laborin exhaustively on plantations and/or running away and seeking a new life in the North.
Regardless of who or where they were, Black people always resisted the oppressive circumstances they found themselves in – and still do.
The beginning of chattel slavery in the western world makes Europe and
Amerikkka the “world powers”
we know them to be contemporarily.
There is no amerikkka without the forced labor of enslaved Afrikans. For the last 400 years, the descendants of those people have continued to face institutional anti-Black violence – the education system, the healthcare system, mass
incarceration, hyper-policing and brutality to name a few. This uncomfortable truth has been swept under the rug in this country for centuries.
It is important we remember the past for a multitude of reasons. We must honor the lives, traditions, work, struggles and triumphs of those who came before us. It is important that as we conduct
our day to day lives, we keep in our hearts and minds those who came before us, as it is their shoulders we stand on.
Additionally, it is up to us to push back against the erasure of
Black histories and remember
forgotten realities at the grass-
All of this is to say that we must always act with Sankofa in mind. Sankofa, roughly translated to “go back and fetch it” is an Adinkra symbol from West Afrika depicted
as a bird whose body is facing for-
ward and head is facing backward.
Sankofa reminds us that we have no
future without reconnecting with
and respecting our past.
In Worcester, on Saturday, August 24, OurStory Edutainment invites you to remember the ancestors of the middle passage, chattel slavery and freedom movements as a community from 4 pm to 6 pm
at Green Hill Park. You are welcome to bring photos of those who have passed for our communal altar
and flowers for our remembrance ceremony by the water. We encourage those who are able to dress in
white clothing, bring a chair and a small dish for sharing.
This is the first step for us to pay homage to those who came before us and make it clear to the generations who come after us that it is our responsibility to reclaim and take pride in the struggles and stories of our ancestors.
We hope to see you there.
FROM BETO O’ROURKE:
I went to a gun show the other day. As soon as I walk in, a guy says, “Hey are you Beto? I’m a fan.” That was the last thing I expected to hear at a gun show.
He invited us to see his booth, where he was selling AR-15s. Before we walked over I said, “I’ll be honest with you, part of the reason I’m here is because I’m concerned about gun violence, that we lose 40,000 people a year. I want to listen to everyone on this. So I came here to listen to you. Tell me what you think. How do we fix this?”
I kid you not, the next words out of his mouth shocked me. He said he should not be allowed to sell weapons because he is not required to conduct a background check at gun shows. But he goes on to tell me that if you’re 18-years-old, can prove it, and have a pulse, he’ll sell you a gun. And then he says he doesn’t think that’s right. Even though he’s profiting from this current system, he knows the current system is broken.
Another guy, a Trump voter, tells me he has an assault weapon, and says he doesn’t know if it will do any good, but he would be willing to turn that weapon in if it’s better for this country. I was floored. Here are two guys literally at a show telling me we should close the gun show loophole, have universal background checks, and do something about assault weapons.
One of the things we learned from the Senate race in Texas was how important it is to not write anyone off. No matter where they live, who they voted for in the last election, how red or blue their county is. Never write anyone off.
That’s why we just traveled to some of the forgotten states in the Democratic primary: Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. We’re going to run everywhere. We’re not ceding an inch to Donald Trump.
I believe that if we do that, we will not only win the presidency in 2020, we will win it in a landslide. Democrats can take on Republicans, and win, in places we didn’t even think we could compete. And in doing so, we can bring this country back together again.