This week marks 400 years since some 20* enslaved Africans were brought to what would become the United States. In commemoration of that difficult history, more than 200 Black people embarked on the Jamestown to Jamestown pilgrimage, making the journey from Jamestown, Virginia, to the Jamestown district of Accra, Ghana.
Organized by the NAACP and The Adinkra Group, the trip lets participants retrace the steps of their ancestors. They land in Accra on Tuesday (August 20) and stay there until they head to Cape Coast Castle on Friday (August 23).
In the video below, NAACP leaders talk about why they had to plan this pilgrimage. “We would not exist but for this journey we call the transatlantic movement,” said NAACP president Derrick Johnson. “We are here in our Sankofa moment so that we can go back and get the knowledge necessary to prepare us for the fight that’s in front of us.”
In a statement, the organization noted that African Americans currently have a great deal to fight, including “a president in the White House who calls into question their patriotism, when in fact, their ancestors built up the colonies with their bare hands, fought for the independence of the nation and continued to fight for the protection of the union in every war since the Revolutionary war.”
Before the group made the transatlantic trip in reverse, NAACP national board of directors chair Leon W. Russell told the crowd, “We stand here as their descendants, empowered by their legacy, emboldened by the knowledge that we built this country and enlightened from today’s experience.”
Piece has been updated to reflect that 1619 was not the first time enslaved Africans landed in what is now known as the United States.