400 Years later: South Florida set to observe the start of slavery at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park

As special observances are held around the nation, and even internationally, of the 400th anniversary of the fateful arrival of “20 and odd” captive Africans from the kingdom of Ndongo, Angola, aboard the ship White Lion “at Point Comfort (modern-day Hampton) in the fledgling British Virginia colony about the later end of August” in 1619, signaling the start of the “racial” drama that continues to haunt the United States today, one open-to-the-public event will mark this “teachable moment” at Miami’s landmark Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, 4020 Virginia Beach Drive (off Rickenbacker Causeway), Miami, Fl  33049, on August 20th.

On Tuesday, August 20, from 6:00 p.m. until sunset, an “Emancipation Circle” event, presented in cooperation with the Association of Black Psychologists and South Florida People of Color, continuing the open dialogue ritual that was so vital to our traditional African villages as a source of collective knowledge, wisdom, and strength in unity, by welcoming and sharing personal reflections.

A New Emphasis on Healing and Empowerment

One of the most notable aspects of practically all of the observances being held is the emphasis on recognizing that we are all carrying the inherited pain of centuries of trauma related to the Transatlantic “slave trade” and to enslavement itself (which is why in the past so many people were reluctant to discuss our history), but that we are now more ready than ever before to acknowledge and confront that pain because of the even more powerful story of individual and collective strength and wisdom that enabled people to live, laugh, love, and create and not be defeated in spite of all the sufferings and horrors, a remarkable legacy like no other that is now coming to light.

Notably, these observances are seen as a launch pad for the future even more than a remembrance of the past: the start of the next 400 years being far better, for all people, than the last 400

A Special Place

It is not accidental that these events are being held at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, Miami’s onetime only “Colored Beach” in the segregation era (yet fondly remembered as being far better than most typical Colored parks throughout the rest of the South, thanks to a uniquely thriving and highly respected Black community), which is also the sacred site for one of the nation’s longest running Annual Ancestral Remembrance of the Middle Passage ceremonies each June.

These events add to the Park’s recent new level of prominence as a result of the publicity generated by the Ultra Music Festival and, more importantly, with the signing of the City of Miami’s agreement with the County to allow bond funding to bring the long-awaited project of an indoor/outdoor historic, environmental, and cultural museum to fruition.

Historical Connections

It cannot go without notice  that these Quadricentennial remembrances include keen awareness of such important dates as the August 17 birthdate of Marcus Garvey, the August 23 start of the Haitian Revolution, the August 28 March on Washington, and the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer” of anti-Black ‘race riots” around the country in 1919, among others.

The event is open to the public. Admission is free. Parking is $5.

About Arri Henry 18 Articles
Journalist, Artist | Instagram @heavensent928

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