Honoring those of the Middle Passage
I have always been impressed with Historic Sotterley’s narrative of enslaved life. They don’t shy away from it and you know for me that’s essential. When I toured the site back in March, I stood at the back (front) of the house and looked out at the river. I was told by Jeanne Pirtle that a ship filled with slaves and cargo would have been right there waiting to be unloaded. And as I stood there, I could see the ship, hear the commotion and it was a haunting experience. Sotterley Plantation and the Middle Passage Cermonies and Port Markers Project want to make sure that this moment in history is not forgotten.
The following is lifted from Sotterley’s blog and it has information on an incredible ceremony taking place next Monday, November 12th at the Plantation. If you are in the area, I IMPLORE YOU to make it there. The wounds of slavery affect us all, and in order to “move on” as so many wish we would, we have to acknowledge our past and face it head on. This event is one of the many steps we should take to help us with that journey.
Owners of what was later to become known as Sotterley Plantation participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade on the Patuxent River in the early 18th century. There is documentation of persons perishing during the passage and being thrown overboard. Some of those who survived the passage remained here, while others were shipped into Virginia. Sotterley’s owners maintained their wealth and property through enslaved labor for 165 years.
This project has the mission of identifying all middle passage ports, sponsoring remembrance ceremonies, and installing historical markers at 175 sites in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe, officially designating the Atlantic Ocean as a sacred burial ground of African ancestors. Since August 23, 2012, remembrance ceremonies have been held in Baltimore and Annapolis. Sotterley is the final of three Maryland middle passage port sites. The next phase will be the installation of the historic markers.
Sotterley Plantation is a place where many African-Americans find their ancestors and this ceremony is intended to repair broken circles, heal, and bring us together. This project is a step to connect personally to our history at the places where African ancestors first arrived. The ceremony will include a historical narrative, prayers by diverse faith groups, drumming, and libation led by an Akan priest.