Amistad sets sail on slave trade route
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN,
Associated Press WriterT
Thu Jun 21,2007
A ship bearing the name Amistad once again set sail for the Atlantic, tracing a 19th-century route of the slave trade.
The Freedom Schooner Amistad, a near-replica of the ship that sparked a slave revolt, left its home port here on a windy but sunny day for a 16-month, 14,000-mile voyage to Nova Scotia, Britain and Africa. Hundreds of onlookers waved and cheered as the ship left the harbor after a ceremony featuring prayers, songs like "We are the World" by school children and shouts of "Amistad" and "Freedom."
Crew and guests said they hoped to inspire the world with the schooner's story of slaves who resisted captivity and later won their freedom. Now we're taking the message of Amistad, of the story of resistance and human rights and the unquenchable human spirit, to the world," declared Capt. William Pinkney, who will sail for part of the voyage. "We believe that the Amistad story is a landmark case in American history and deserves to be told and recognized," said William Minter, chairman of the project.
In 1839, more than 50 African captives en route to Cuba on the Amistad schooner rebelled and took over the ship. After landing on Long Island, they were captured and jailed in New Haven.With help from area abolitionists, the surviving Africans won their freedom in a historic legal battle that started in Connecticut and ended in the U.S. Supreme Court. Former President John Quincy Adams represented the slaves. Their story was depicted in the 1997 movie directed by Steven Spielberg.
Freedom Schooner Amistad, constructed at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, was launched in 2000. The ship has traveled around the country, but this is its first voyage tracing the slave route. The new voyage will revisit the slave industry triangle with stops at nearly 20 Atlantic ports that played an important role in the trade.Seven college students from Britain and the U.S. are on board, learning the legacy of the slave trade. Through live Web casts and e-mail correspondence with schools and museums around the world, the students are expected to share their experiences with millions of other students worldwide."It's hugely exciting," said Logan Senack, a 20-year-old University of Connecticut student. "We're ready and we're all very excited."Pinkney warned them that the ship does not have a plasma television, but does have showers and "a wonderful cook."
After stopping in Nova Scotia, the Amistad will arrive in London in early August to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. The vessel will head to Liverpool for the opening of the International Slavery Museum and then travel to Portugal and Sierra Leone, the original West African homeland of many of the Amistad captives.The Amistad will return to the United States next year to commemorate the bicentenary of legislation to ban the importation of slaves.
Actor John Amos, who starred in "Roots," is filming the voyage for a documentary."This is easily the most important thing I've ever been involved with in my life," he said
USVI reparations group returns from Denmark ready to act
By Susan Mann
Caribbean Net News
Published June 18,2007
ST CROIX, USVI: In recent months, additional Caribbean government representatives and reparations activists have continued to organize around the issue of reparations for slavery and crimes against humanity.
The leaders of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana respectively, have all made formal reparations claims against European nations responsible for slavery. The US Virgin Islands is no exception to this growing movement. In fact, as previously reported by Caribbean Net News, the Virgin Islanders began working with the Danes on a reparations model in 2005.
In April 2005, Virgin Islands leaders and elected officials traveled to Denmark as a part of a delegation organised by the African-Caribbean Reparations and Resettlement Alliance (ACRRA) to draft an historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Danish Institute for Human Rights. The agreement became the first to recognize that “the people of the US Virgin Islands suffered economic, psychological, social and emotional harm during the period of slavery in the Danish West Indies,” and led to the establishment of the Joint Virgin Islands / Denmark Reparations Task Force.
On May 4, 2005, the 26th Legislature of the US Virgin Islands passed resolution #26-0045, historic legislation drafted by Senator Celestino White and Senator Usie Richards, the first of its kind to “Condemn the institution of slavery and seek reparations from Denmark”. On May 25, 2005, the legislature hosted its first reparations conference to discuss the repair of a humanity left un-intact by 175 years of Danish slavery. Now, after increased discussion, ACRRA this month has again returned from Denmark with another agreement and a strategy for government to government dialogue on the matter.
On the issue of government to government dialogue, ACRRA Vice-President Kendall Petersen says “the governments of the Caribbean are ready, the government of Ghana is ready, the Danish government is now also ready to talk, and so we must now know where our Virgin Islands leaders stand.” Reporting on the meetings in Denmark, ACRRA President Shelley Moorhead says that, “after having met with task force representatives in Denmark, I am thoroughly convinced that there is a readiness in Copenhagen for another official visit from the USVI Government, and that the time has now come for government to government discussion on the matter.” During the visit to Denmark, Moorhead was accompanied by History, Culture, and Tradition Foundation (HCTF) Vice-President, Duane Howell, who participated in the meetings with members of the task force representing some 16 NGOs, groups, organizations that came together to further the Virgin Islands reparations initiative. HCTF is responsible for the annual July 3rd, Emancipation Day Commemoration and is preparing next year for the 160th jubilee ceremony. While abroad, Moorhead also visited Norway where he was invited to lecture on reparations at the Oslo University College and to discuss to what extent Norway and the West should be held accountable for consequences stemming from the slave trade and colonization that Africans were subjected to.
For 200 years Norway was a part of a double monarchy known then as Denmark-Norway and were in large part responsible for the enslavement of Africans brought to the now US Virgin Islands. The details of the new Memorandum of Understanding reached this May in Copenhagen, the timeframe for the 2nd official reparations mission to Denmark, and the strategy for government to government dialogue will be discussed at a Community Briefing scheduled for 10:00 AM, Tuesday, June 19, in Frederiksted on St. Croix. The event will be open to the press and public.