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I know that we must reclaim those bones in the Atlantic Ocean. Do you know that there is not a plaque, a day, a ritual, or an hour that is erected in memorial to those one hundred million bodies in the Atlantic Ocean? All those African bones in the briny deep. All those people who said ‘no’ and jumped ship. All those people who tried to figure out a way to steer, to navigate amongst the sharks.
We don’t call upon that power. We don’t call upon those spirits. We don’t celebrate those ancestors. We don’t have a marker, an expression or a song that we use to acknowledge them. We have nothing to indicate that those are our people and they mattered! We willingly self-administer knockout drops. More horrendous is the fact that we don’t tap into the ancestral presence in those waters.
Toni Cade Bambara, Author 1987
The Inspired. . .
“The Honorable John Umolu, my late husband, taught me many, many years ago that Black people must honor and pay tribute to our Ancestors. He helped me to see that, just as other people in the world call upon their ancestors (Saint this and/or Saint that. . . ), Black people must also know our history and call upon our ancestors. That is why I decided that, during the International Black Storyteller’s Conference held at Medgar Evers College/CUNY in 1989, we must have a significant salute to our Ancestors. That is why I decided that we must take a pilgrimage to the water and pay tribute.”
Dr. Mary Umolu, Professor, MEC, 1996
“I was inspired by Toni Cade Bambara’s Quote. Her words, along with my knowledge of history, made me commit myself to organizing an annual tribute to Our Ancestors of the Middle Passage. I know that this is the right thing to do. It’s not about my name being called as the person who is principally responsible for the work to organize the Tribute. It is about millions of Black people buried in that ocean. It is about making sure that our children’s children don’t forget.”
AKEEM, Producer, 1996
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