Wade in the Water: A Day of Remembering, Mourning, and Honoring African American Ancestors

By Nelson, Nancy | Negro History Bulletin, January-March 1999 | Go to article overview

Wade in the Water: A Day of Remembering, Mourning, and Honoring African American Ancestors


Nelson, Nancy, Negro History Bulletin


The arrival of 20 Africans in April 1619 at Jamestown, Virginia, is symbolically recognized as the start of slavery in the American colonies. For centuries our African ancestors were chained, branded, beaten, and transported across the ocean as part of the most brutal slavery in history. For each African who was enslaved, it is estimated that three to four died. For centuries, African and African American ancestors worked under barbaric conditions in homes, factories, fields and on ships. They were abused, mutilated, bred, murdered, and humiliated.

We, as a people, have never has a chance to mourn. We have never taken the time to fully honor our incredibly strong, intelligent and resourceful ancestors who strived and survived that we might be here today and have the opportunities that we now have, on April 11, 1999, and on the second Sunday of each year, we should take that time. Each year in April the observance should be repeated. This would be a day that is set aside to remember, to mourn, and to honor our ancestors. This observance will also allow us as a people and as individuals to begin, at long last to heal.

Remember: On this day read and tell the stories of our ancestors. Include the lives of your own ancestors. Teach children, youth, and adults about the people and about life during slavery. …

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