Happy International Slavery Remembrance Day!

August 23, 2011  |  

Did you know that today is the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade & Abolition? As proclaimed by UNESCO:

Commemorated on 23 August every year, the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade and its Abolition, pays tribute to the millions of men, women and children who were victims of slavery. This Day is intended to inscribe in the memory of all people of the world the slave revolt that erupted on the eve of 23 August 1791 in Saint Domingue, the island containing present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This revolt was instrumental in the abolition of one of the most extreme violations of human rights in the history of humanity.

The recognition of this day couldn’t be more timely for me personally. This past weekend I had the honor of attending a traditional Nigerian wedding held for two of my close friends. It was an amazing affair filled with Ibo traditions and love, but I left with a feeling of emptiness that I later vented to my Twitter followers. This amazing display of ritual and culture was once not so foreign to my family until my ancestors were stolen from Africa. I’m one of the descendants of the 12.5 million Africans who were shipped to the Americas and forced into chattel slavery. While I have a connection to the continent of Africa, I really don’t. The devastation that my ancestors endured stripped me of my knowledge of the customs and ways of my people–like many other African Americans.

So here we are today, given the chance to recognize the atrocities of slavery and reconnect with our past. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization) seeks to build awareness about this day of solidarity, but here in America, very little media attention is given to it. There’s a host of events that will be going on today throughout the world remembering the legacy of our ancestors. Though no events are scheduled here in the U.S., I ask that we at least use today as a day to reflect and educate others about the horror of slavery and remember our ancestors strength and courage to resist and endure bondage. Tell someone that today is the International Day for the Remembrance of Slave Trade & Abolition. Who cares if they don’t want to hear about it? Give honor to those who labored and died so that you might have a better future than they were afforded.

How important is it for you to honor the legacy of Africans who were enslaved in the Americas? How do you keep their legacy alive?

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