400 years of African-American History Commemoration

SANKOFA 1619-2019

SANKOFA AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY PROJECT 2019

MISSION                          

Our mission is to celebrate the 400th year anniversary of the contribution of Africans as Americans to the life and culture of the United States of America since the arrival of Europeans at Point Comfort in 1619.  We will create a strategy to expose and commemorate the progress that Africans have made through public events that are geared to acknowledge, educate, motivate and celebrate our innovative spirit and uplifting accomplishments that have influenced not only these United States but also the world.


MEANING AND SYMBOLISM            

  • The Sankofa project derives its name from Adinkra symbols and ideology in the Twi language of Ghana’s Ashanti people. The Sankofa Adinkra symbol is regularly represented by either a stylized heart shape or by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet are facing forward. Both the historical significance and literal translation of Sankofa mean “to reach back and fetch what we may have left behind.”  Another interpretation is that Africans had a rich history before slavery, so see wereclaiming that history allows us to reconnect with it by learning about our ancestors and their significant events and accomplishments in order to help us achieve our full potential as we move forward.  Whatever African Americans may have lost, forgotten, or been officially denied can be reclaimed to inspire the entire African diaspora with a spiritual energy to continue moving forward as a glorious people.

The SANKOFA AFRICAN HISTORY PROJECT 2019 will take the same approach in reaching back and examining the setbacks we have faced and the progress we have made during the last 400 years in the United States of America. The project is structured to illustrate and celebrate the proud heritage of African Americans by way of signature events commemorating our exceptional victories in the face of extreme challenges. Reaching back will honor our ancestors as well as empower our youth as they prepare for a brighter future.


BACKGROUND

The slave trade began officially in the 15th century circa 1441 with Portugal, but other European kingdoms soon became involved and established shipment zones all along the African coastline.  Africans of all ages were kidnapped and subjected to religious and language conversion through identity confusion and subsequent trafficking, primarily by way of Africa’s West coast (formerly labeled the Slave Coast) from such areas as Senegal, the Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Benin. These enslaved Africans were transported in chains and other unhealthy conditions to Europe, Brazil, and the Americas -- South America, Mexico, the United States, Canada and the Caribbean islands -- for sale to work in homes and on plantations.  This Trans-Atlantic slave trade was negotiated in the late 15th Century as a joint venture of the crown heads of Europe and Catholic popes who declared that Africans and other indigenous peoples were mere property, henceforth denying them the rights afforded to human beings in order to exploit their labor for profit. As a result, the practice of most cultural and religious rituals were forbidden and suppressed.


This horrific 400-year period saw the dehumanization of Africans and other indigenous peoples worldwide as they were exposed to inconceivable atrocities. However, African Americans continually found ways to fight for freedom until major victories were achieved in the form of abolition and Emancipation in the 19th Century. The indomitable spirit of these African Americans even allowed them to maintain basic aspects of their cultural heritages in adapted forms, including food and music. 

While archaeological evidence such as pyramids, mounds, and naturally preserved artifacts reveals that Africans had circumnavigated the globe and landed in the Americas many years before, a significant and impactful amount were brought as slaves to the western hemisphere in 1619. These new arrivals landed in Virginia and started their lives of servitude by building the newly named Americas and making advancements intended for all but themselves to enjoy. 


The year 2019 will signify approximately 400 years since these Africans arrived in the USA as an enslaved people. However, the purpose of this official acknowledgment is not to berate, but to narrate, commemorate and celebrate in large numbers around the nation the numerous positive intellectual, artistic and technical advancements that Africans have made in the west as Americans and continue to do so daily as an inspiring example to the world.


In the spirit of Sankofa, this remembrance will recognize and recount the great skills and talents that made Africans the desirable labor force to build a Hemisphere of Dreams© that was intended by the colonizers and their heirs to parallel the great empires and ancient technologies of the African Mother Land. It will enlighten new generations of citizens about African American contributions to the United States and the world. It will set the stage to inspire the launch of more innovations and collaborations among all ethnicities as we use our innate creativity to design and build new advancements to continue improving society.