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The year 2003 will mark the 14th Annual Tribute to Our Ancestors of the Middle Passage.  The organizers of the Tribute are committed to holding the event annually to raise people’s consciousness about modern slavery, and to raise the required funds to have a permanent monument erected that commemorates the Africans who died during one of the most horrendous periods of human history, the AtlanticSlave Trade.


All of the organizers, speakers and performers at the annual Tribute organize and perform free of charge.  They have seen the event as a place to offer their talents and gifts in honor of those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice so that we might live better lives today. The Collective operates with a sense of urgency that grows out of a sincere belief in the old adage that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it.  We see ominous signs in society today, including a government committed to spending more money on prisons and war machinery than it spends on education, that history is attempting to repeat itself.   A new form of slavery is being instituted, and the Collective believes that this new slavery can only be stopped by our collective will and determination to stop it.

The Collective believes that there are a lot of things that need to be fixed in this world of pain, suffering, and human exploitation. Some things can, of course, wait.  However, there are many things that we just can’t afford to put off until another day or time.  The new millennium is here, and the human condition demands that we right some of the wrongs of history.  At the very least, we are called upon to tell some of the stories of history, learn from our past, and commit ourselves to doing the work that will prevent some of the atrocities of the past from ever happening again.      

We owe it to our children and our future generations of children to set some things straight which have been crooked for too long.  It is time for us to collect upon a tremendous debt that is owed to Black people, and to sing our songs for a new day. The Collective believes that it won’t be easy, this straightening out of the crooked, this unearthing of the truth that is buried in the quagmire of lies that continue to be told.  Movement to bring forth justice is never easy, especially in the midst of our excruciating pain and justifiable anger, razor sharp with history, herstory, ourstory, and theirstory in Red, Black, Yellow, Brown, and White, the human rainbow. 

While it will not be easy, it is absolutely necessary.  We must move.  We must remember. A debt is owed that needs paying.  It won’t go away.  It needs fixing. Now! The Collective believes that we must remember and talk about those slave ships, those water chariots of death.  Millions upon millions of Black bodies chained, left to die, just as long as a few (those who simply refused to die!) could live and earn money for the masters of the enslaved.  Millions upon millions of people – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, aunties, spiritual leaders, scientists, crafts persons, cousins, uncles, teachers, farmers, students healers, musicians, market women, historians, dark people, earth people, sun people – all read to live life, snatched away, beaten, and chains so that death would claim them on those slave ships that were steered by the devil himself!

The Collective believes that we must revere and talk about the Atlantic Ocean that roars beneath the endless blue sky on days when calm isOcean hiding.  We bear witness to the Water that  has created additional moisture to cry its own tears again and again and again.  Tears that turn from blue green to mud brown over dead and poisoned fish that float by our human castles that have claimed the earth and house horrendous deeds and thoughts.  The Ocean.  Water with a floor of cleaned bones. Bones of Baba, Mama, Cousin Him, Cousin Her, and Neighbor Friend.  Bones of those who couldn’t take the darkness, the filth, and the lack of food and clean drinking water. Bones that couldn’t take the systematic beatings and rape.  Bones that caved in when eyes witnessed children  and loved ones being tossed overboard, providing more food for the sharks.  Bones that couldn’t stand being paced like sardines with heavy chains around necks, hands, and feet.  Bones that couldn’t take lying in urine and feces and vomit while continuously rocking in the bowels of those ships.  Bones that decided to take a chance and fight back.  Bones that tried to fly home.  Grown-up bones and baby bones.  Bones that tried to stay alive. Tired hard to hold on, one hour at a time. But lost.  Flesh given to ocean scavengers.  Bones lying in the Ocean, the largest single graveyard in the world. We believe that there is a physical and spiritual presence in the Ocean that we must acknowledge and stop throwing garbage upon.  We must remember that, like the Earth, the Ocean is sacred, and it demands our recognition and respect. 

We believe that it is a place for both our fun and our seriousness, a place for our children’s laughter And our grown-up Tears, some of Which are caused By Memory, that Life force that Keeps our Ancestral Stories alive. And while we Do all the Various Things that Must be Done in our Daily lives As we Struggle For Survival, Quality, justice, And peace, we Must continue to find the time and the space to create an ongoing memorial for those people who are buried in the Ocean.  It is then and only then that their Spirits will be able to rest in peace and offer us blessings as we continue our trek on Earth. We believe that we must listen to the wind over the Ocean, and hear the voices from the past calling out to us.  If we dare, we might hear the ancestors telling us what needs to be done.  We must listen to the quiet voices within our Black selves while we are at the Ocean, and hear out Kushite hearts beat with the call of the drum, the drum call for justice, freedom, and peace.  We must make certain that the world never forgets those wicked slave ships and slavers, and the human flesh and hearts that were destroyed by greed and beliefs in racial superiority.  We must remember that today the great, great, grandchildren of the wicked slavers often wear designer suits and ties.  They carry new types of whips and build new types of holding cells while they poison the water and the air, and attempt to destroy our memories through continuous and deliberate mis-education. 

We believe that we can win the war against ignorance and misinformation when we collectively stand up to win.

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