As a lead up to Sankofa's 8th International Day of REMEMBRANCE Ceremony on June 8, join Chadra Pittman, Founder & Executive Director The Sankofa Projects for “When the Cargo was Human and the Trade was Flesh: Agency & Resistance of the Africans the World Forgot Before and Beyond 1619”
In 2019, the world remembers the 400th year since the first ‘human cargo’ arrived at Port Comfort (now Fort Monroe) in Hampton, Virginia. Those ‘20 & odd’ Africans disembarked the White Lion and the ‘trade in flesh’ officially began in British North America. However, before their arrival in 1619, there was a journey known as the Middle Passage, which forcibly transported millions of Africans throughout the world during the Transatlantic ‘Slave’ Trade. Whether dying on the shores or left to drown at sea, the Middle Passage tragically consumed the lives of millions. These are the Africans that the world forgot and for whom, Chadra Pittman works diligently for the world to remember!
For the past 8 years, through her lectures, publications, community programs & Sankofa’s Annual International Day of Remembrance, Pittman gives voice to this missing chapter in history. Like the name of her organization ‘Sankofa’, Pittman invites you on a journey through time where she will “reach back to the past”, draw correlations to present day injustices to create a future where we recognize our shared humanity. From Fort Elmina to Fort Monroe, the New York African Burial Ground to Bay Shore Beach & Resort, hear the voices of the cargo and learn about the International Movement of Remembrance.
Pittman has long contested that, “The history of slavery remains gravely incomplete if the horror of the African experience on the Middle Passage, the terror & torture imposed during the Transatlantic trade and lives of the millions of Africans who perished continues to be disregarded.” Join Pittman as she gives voice to these neglected narratives, engage in an honest conversation about humanity, yours and theirs, for as Bishop Desmond Tutu states, “My humanity is bound up in yours; for we can only be human together!” We must remember the Africans that the world forgot and acknowledge their humanity which was denied.
In 1992, she began speaking for the dead & giving voice to their untold stories.
Nearly three decades later, this former Public Educator & Media Coordinator, for the oldest and largest African Burial Ground excavated in North America, continues to use her voice, scholarship & organizations as platforms to educate, empower & elicit change.
Chadra Pittman is the Founder & Executive Director of The Sankofa (San-Koy-Fuh) Projects, an educational, cultural & social justice organization centered on the African Diaspora & 4 E.V.E.R. (End Violence End Rape in the 4 Directions of the Earth), where she focuses on advocacy for the Deaf and LGBTQI communities.
As the Creator of Sankofa’s International Day of Remembrance at Buckroe Beach, now in its 8th year, Chadra spearheads the only Middle Passage ceremony in Coastal Virginia which honors the millions of Africans who perished on the Middle Passage and which dedicated Sankofa members and the community support annually. Chadra also co-created templates for Middle Passage ceremonies to be orchestrated in 175 countries worldwide.
Chadra is a national lecturer, avid researcher and consummate writer, published in the Feminist Wire and the American Anthropological Association. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and minor in African American Studies from George Mason University. A former student of Alvin Ailey Dance School, Chadra infuses the arts into her pedagogical approach; she is a historical reenactor of Mary Peake, plays percussion instruments, Djun Djuns (Doon doons) and Shekere (Shake-Urr- Ray), and orchestrates libations & spiritual ceremonies. Her sacred & scholarly life’s work is rooted in Remembrance of critical time periods, of historic & sacred places that hold memory of what happened there & of people, both the famous and the forgotten. Her work has been featured in Scalawag Magazine, the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, A Joyous Revolt, Urban Intellectual, various books and numerous publications worldwide.
Former Public Relations Manager for NASA Pioneer Dr. Katherine G. Johnson, Chadra collaborated with the National Technical Association, Inc. to erect a memorial bench in Johnson’s honor in Downtown Hampton. A Social Justice Activist and Educator, Chadra creates programs & speaks out against multiple forms of oppression. She has been featured on C-SPAN, Hampton Roads Show, Round Robin, MTV’s Rock the Vote, WHOV & WHRO/NPR.
This native of the Bronx, New York has been recognized by the Barrett Peake Foundation, Hampton City Schools, Weyanoke Association, the city of Hampton and is the 2019 recipient of the Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Groundbreaker’s Award for her scholarship, service to the community & her work initiating the ceremony of Remembrance.
Chadra creates safe spaces for the exploration of ideas, serves as a liaison between the grassroots & academic communities & works to builds bridges across our differences. Whether Chadra is spearheading the premier showing of a James Baldwin Film at Fort Monroe Theatre, lecturing, orchestrating an event to end violence against women and girls, planning a Coat drive for children in need, volunteering to transport wildlife for rehabilitation or serving as an Ambassador for an AIDS Fundraiser, this intersectional feminist wears many hats and feathers in her community. Chadra remains committed to her 2 amazing sons, acknowledging our shared humanity, advocating for equality for all & honoring the Africans, the women and the marginalized, that the world forgot and for whom she works diligently for us to remember.
Image: Sargeant Memorial Collections Slover