The legacies of the U.S. slave trade have extended well into present. The N.C. African American Heritage Commission seeks to explore this present-day legacy by looking to the past through its newest initiative, “Africa to Carolina.” The first in a series of public meetings will be Thursday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. in Edenton at the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse.
The “Africa to Carolina” initiative serves to identify, mark and develop resources around the primary sites in North Carolina where enslaved Africans disembarked. Eight port cities have been identified for the project, and the N.C. African American Heritage Commission will examine events leading up to and following those landings and consider how to better acknowledge these landings in meetings from January through March.
“We will share information, gather feedback and suggestions, and learn what communities expect from the initiative,” explains N.C. African American Heritage Commission Acting Executive Director Angela Thorpe. “We are also to collaborate with constituents to explore local connections to the U.S. slave trade.”
The project will engage in meaningful discussion about the legacies and the commemoration of slavery in North Carolina. Meeting participants will consider how individual communities can grapple with these legacies via public commemoration, public art and community discussion, among other things.
These meetings will be facilitated by Janeen Bryant, Principal and Founder of Charlotte-based organization Facilitate Movement, LLC. Bryant has received national acclaim for her work in creating spaces for honest and thought-provoking community dialogue.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture was catalyst for this project in North Carolina. The N.C. African American Heritage Commission is also being advised by the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that is leading similar efforts across the United States.
Disembarkation ports in North Carolina were Bath, Beaufort, Brunswick, Currituck, New Bern, Plymouth, Roanoke and Wilmington. Africa to Carolina meetings also will be held in Bath, Plymouth, New Bern and Wilmington.
For additional information, please call (919) 814-6516 or visit the initiative online at https://aahc.nc.gov/programs/africa-carolina.
The N.C. African American Heritage Commission is within the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Complete schedule of public meetings:
Jan. 31, 6 p.m.
Edenton State Historic Site
1767 Chowan County Courthouse
117 E. King St.
Edenton, NC 27932
Presented in partnership with Edenton State Historic Site
Feb. 26, 6 p.m.
Bath State Historic Site
Visitors Center Auditorium
207 Carteret St.
Bath, NC 27808
Presented in partnership with Bath State Historic Site
March 5, 6 p.m.
Vernon James Center
207 Research Station Rd.
Plymouth, NC 27962
Presented in partnership with Somerset Place State Historic Site
March 14, 6 p.m.
North Carolina History Center
Cullman Performance Hall
529 S Front St.
New Bern, NC 28562
Presented in partnership with Tryon Palace
March 26, 6 p.m.
Cape Fear Community College
411 N. Front Street
Wilmington, NC 28401