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Nobody's free until everybody's free.

1619 Commemorative event

at Montclair State University

On October 29th, at Montclair State University, we commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in Jamestown, Virginia. These Africans were the first of millions that followed as slaves to work on plantations established on land stolen from the indigenous peoples of the continent. We gathered to acknowledge this somber anniversary, and also to renew and strengthen the long struggle for full emancipation, equity, and justice.

 

African peoples continue to be displaced from their homes by war and conflict that stems from centuries of slavery and colonialism. Our 1619 commemoration recognized this connection by bringing one of our Rwandan cooks to the table and highlighting her food. 

 

Our Syrian chefs prepared a majority of a feast that nourished over 100 attendees. African Americans and Arab Americans came together over food. We listened to music performed by the Montclair Social Justice musicians and a short play “Just as Cruel: Enslaved in Essex County” by the MSU NAACP student chapter. A faculty panel offered reflections on the ongoing struggle for racial justice and equity. 

What is African American liberation? What does freedom mean for African Americans today? How do we get there?

We need to unify, account for the past, and assume the rights and responsibility of the future for all if we are to meet the challenges ahead. Gathering together on a rainy October night, we celebrated the right of all people to enjoy equality and dignity.