400th Commemoration of African American Experience


In the historic Vicksburg Memorial Cemetery, city leaders and park officials spoke to honor the 400th anniversary of slavery in America. 

Robert Stewart, Vicksburg National Military Park Acting Chief of Interpretation says, “This program was done to commemorate the stories of the past and give us insight on how we can make the future better. The story of African American people is a story of people who’ve been in this country for four-hundred years, who have overcome many obstacles but are still here, still contributing every day.”

As apart 1619 Project from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery,  National parks and communities across the nation rang bells to honor and spark conversations about the African and African American legacy.

A woman rings a bell to honor the first Africans brought into American Slavery

Mayor of Vicksburg, George Flags, states, “The ringing of the bell symbolizes freedom. What we have to do is use these days to motivate African American people, young and old, that we have a struggle before us and we can’t let the politics of the day, the racism of the day, stop us.”

On Cam Bridge: People traveled from various parts of the country just to ring this bell as apart of the 400th Commemoration of the African Experience

Dr. Deidre Ann Tyler shares, ” I am an instructor at Salt Lake Community College in Salt Lake City, Utah. So listening to the stories, seeing exactly where all of the events have occurred, and this was so prevalent for us to celebrate the great accomplishments of all.”

Linda Fondren adds, “We have fought and have worked so hard for so many things and this was a day to remember all the people who came before us and what they were able to accomplish and what we yet still have to accomplish.” 

After the speaker finished their speeches many attendees stood in line for an opportunity to ring the historic bell.

Robert Stewart, Vicksburg National Military Park Acting Chief of Interpretation continues, “People have different emotional reactions, some rang the bell in more of a solemn form some rung the bell quickly, some put a lot of “oomph” and passion about it.”

But all were able to partake in the honoring of the first slaves and an event that shaped America we know today.

Mayor of Vicksburg, George Flags concludes, “To stand here four-hundred years later on these grounds, and say that I’m a product of a Black Mayor of this city, it speaks volumes for all those that have struggled, all those that have sacrificed their life and it reaffirms what Dr. Martin Luther King say and that it is always right to do what is right.

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