Seventy-five women answered the call to action to end hunger and poverty at the “African at Heart: 2019 Advocacy and Resource Summit” on Nov. 13-15 in D.C.
They represented numerous organizations including the Pan African Women of Faith of Bread for the World, the Pan African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network of the World Council of Churches and the African Union.
The inspiration for the summit came from the Pan African Women of Faith Conference Call to Action in 2018, said Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World and editor of their publication “Lament and Hope: A Pan-African Devotional Guide Commemorating the 2019 Quad-Centennial of the Forced Transatlantic Voyage of Enslaved African Peoples to Jamestown, Virginia (USA).”
This year’s focus was to bring Pan African Women of Faith together to discuss global nutrition and to remember the transatlantic slave trade and 1619.
“They are disproportionately affected by global nutrition concerns and related intersectional issues,” Walker-Smith said. “They are the children of or kindred of the ancestors of the transatlantic slave trade in some way.”
The women made the trek to the nation’s capital from Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois and Connecticut. Others were from the D.C. metropolitan area. Participants also traveled from Angola, Brazil, Bahamas, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Ghana to be a part of the event.
On the first day of the summit, the women participated in the “1619 Potomac Pilgrimage,” to perform ceremonies of lament, celebration and vision. The first stop was at the African American History and Culture Museum to remember the sale of enslaved Africans. The next stop on their journey was to reflect and celebrate the Pan African Abolitionist movement at Frederick Douglass’ home.
The final journey of the pilgrimage was to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for a vision ceremony to profess what repair and flourishing will look like for the people of the African diaspora and call for reparations and restitution. After the pilgrimage, the women went to Ebenezer United Methodist Church at 400 D Street, Southeast for dinner and to celebrate Pan African Women of Faith.
The second day of the summit was called the Thursdays in Black: Resistance and Resilience campaign and the women went to Capitol Hill to lobby for global maternal and child nutrition. The day ended with a reception and a keynote address from Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Black Maternal Health Caucus and the founder of the Black Women and Girls Caucus.
The summit concluded with workshops and a plenary session featuring Ertharin Cousin, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture from 2009-2012.
“Our Pan African vision of connection through our diversities of African heritage and genealogy gives us an important voice in remembering and envisioning a future based on spiritual resistance to enslavement and other forms of marginalization, racism and violence,” Walker-Smith said.