The 17th annual Sunrise Ancestral Remembrance of the Middle Passage Ceremony, an informal, grassroots gathering to remember Africans who suffered during the Atlantic slave trade, will be held on Sunday.
The date this year coincides with Father’s Day and with Juneteenth, the growing commemoration of June 19, 1865, when the last of the enslaved persons in the United States — in east Texas — received the news that the Civil War had ended and that they were now free.
That date, more than that of the Emancipation Proclamation two and a half years earlier, marks the real end of legalized slavery in the United States.
The Ancestral Remembrance ceremony will take on added significance also this year because the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2011 the International Year for People of African Descent.
Organizers also see the location of the ceremony – Virginia Key Beach in Miami-Dade — as important, not only because this was once Miami’s only “Colored Beach” during the segregation era but also because, according to lead organizer Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, “South Florida is rapidly emerging as an epicenter of Middle Passage and Underground Railroad history, escape routes, with such sites as Cape Florida on Key Biscayne and several in the Florida Keys.
The oceanfront ceremony is sponsored by the Dos Amigos/Fair Rosamond Slave Ship Replica Project and Kwanzaa Unlimited.
Organizers will welcome drummers for the event and will also accept offerings of fruits, flowers, grains, nuts and other appropriate items. They will be carried out to the sea as a remembrance of the millions of human beings who were bought and sold like livestock in the slave trade and transported in horrific conditions over more than four centuriesa.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 17th annual Sunrise Ancestral Remembrance of the Middle Passage Ceremony
WHEN: 5:30 a.m. Sunday, June 19
WHERE: Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, off Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key (ark entrance is a left turn at the second traffic signal)
Contact: For further information, call 305-904-7620 or 786- 260-1246.