Photos: Brooklyn vigil honors 400th anniversary of first African slaves in colonial U.S.

“If you don’t know your history, you really don’t know your future.”

August 19, 2019 Jimin Kim
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Nearly 100 people gathered at DUMBO’s Pebble Beach on Saturday to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved African people arriving on the shores of the colonial U.S.

Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, and Don Victor Mooney, president of the HR 1242 Resilience Project, joined United Nations dignitaries, labor leaders, school principals, law enforcement officials and more for a ceremony and a vigil in honor of those who were enslaved in New York City.

The places enslaved African people were brought from and taken to. Eagle photo by Jimin Kim
Don Victor Mooney (right) and Dr. Delois Blakely (left) touch a rock Mooney brought back from the House of Slaves on Gorée Island in Senegal. Eagle photo by Jimin Kim

Mooney rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in 2015 to honor his African ancestors who endured the transatlantic slave trade. His 21-month journey started in the Canary Islands and ended in Brooklyn — right at Pebble Beach.

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Mooney chose the Brooklyn waterfront for Saturday’s ceremony to remember the African slaves who once worked on the New York harbor, in the local farmlands and sugar refineries — and those who were sold to the southern states upon arrival to New York City.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Eagle photo by Jimin Kim
Don Victor Mooney and attendees join hands in remembrance. Eagle photo by Jimin Kim

“I just hope others will continue to remember and talk about our history — because if you don’t know your history, you really don’t know your future,” he said.

“We’ve come a distance, but we should never rest on what we have done until the task is completed,” Adams added.  “When you see some of the attacks across the country, when you see the displacement of people across the country from their homes, when you see our borders being closed and not allowing groups to come in — it’s clearly a signal that we could easily slip back to the days that was really a blemish on America. We need to do everything we can to keep moving forward.”

Correction (4:58 p.m.): A previous version of this article misspelled Don Victor Mooney’s name in a photo caption. The article has been amended. The Brooklyn Eagle regrets the error.

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