Dozens gather at the African American Civil War monument in D.C. on Aug. 23 to commemorate International Slavery Remembrance Day. (Mark Mahoney/The Washington Informer)

Eloquently lit candles surrounded the African American Civil War monument in northwest D.C. last week as dozens gathered in tribute to their heroic ancestors who fought to end slavery.

International Slavery Remembrance Day was held Aug. 23, just before sunset, giving community members and visitors a chance to remember those who fought to build this country and to remember and learn their history, said Johnny L. Coleman II, event founder and chief anthropologist.

“Over a year ago I began communication with the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool,” Coleman said. “I learned about the origin and observance of August 23 and for months asked others about it with few people in the U.S. knowing about it, despite it being a big day internationally.

“After learning about August 23, I went to both the African American Civil War Memorial & Museum and most certainly Minister Alreda Chi Mauuso,” he said. “When it comes to someone having a global consciousness, a minister with a world view while also being very involved locally, that is Minister Chi without a question. She has so much love for others, and an impeccable track record and is adept on the issues that I was so very happy to have her support.”

The event was also welcomed by Minister Alreda Chi Mauuso of The Washington Family Church in Ward 1, who led participants in a moment of silence and prayer.

“It was indeed an honor to be a part of this awesome opportunity for my ancestors,” Mauuso said. “We should all be aware that this day was approved by the United Nation and the information should be known to us all.”

Designated in 1998 to commemorate an estimated 15 million people over 400 years who were victims of slavery and sex trafficking, Aug. 23 serves as a reminder of the night of Aug. 22-23, 1791, where the island of Saint Domingue, now known as Haiti, endured an uprising which led to the abolition of the Transatlantic slave trade.

Coleman said the day also serves as a much-needed history lesson to all.

“I think it’s an honorable occasion for everyone because of the simple math that the prosperity produced by the free labor from the our ancestors, who were enslaved against their will, produced wealth that to this day is still growing,” Coleman said. “Some people think that it was created by the United Nations, but when you read the history it was supported by various ones within the organs of the UN to bring about remembrance and abolition. This day also brings us into the realities of the current slave trade especially against girls — and yes, boys too — forced into sexual trafficking in this country and around the world.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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