WASHINGTON, -- The Freedom Schooner Amistad will visit Cuba next week as part of the United Nations commemoration of March 25 as the global Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Atlantic slave trade.
The Amistad will enter Cuban waters on March 22, 2010 for a 10-day, two city Cuba tour that will culminate its recent Caribbean Heritage Voyage. The ship will first visit Matanzas, site of a new UNESCO-affiliated slavery museum. On March 25, the Amistad will sail into Havana Harbor to commemorate the historic "triangle of trade" connections between America,Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The next day, the vessel will host a three-hour simulcast about the shared slave trade heritage, connecting Cuban students to classrooms across the Atlantic Ocean and at the UN in New York. In addition to public tours of the boat and academic panels on its history, the Cuba visits will focus on the impact of the slave trade on our transatlantic cultural heritage -- including religious ritual, film, music, dance, poetry and visits to former plantations.
"The sale of the Amistad captives in Havana was a small transaction in the thriving international slave trade," said Gregory Belanger, president of Amistad America Inc. "But the resulting events arguably turned the tide against slavery itself -- and the historical connections across the modern African diaspora are direct and profound."
"This visit is especially poignant because Amistad's own story began in Cuba," said Belanger, noting the original ship was built in Cuba. In 1839, the Amistad sailed from Havana, the center of the illegal slave trade. This will be the replica's first visit to Cuba -- and it coincides with the tenth anniversary of its launch at Mystic Seaport Museum on March 25, 2000.
The Amistad is a 140-foot replica of the two-masted black schooner that was at the center of the 1841 slave rebellion case argued successfully by John Quincy Adams, leading to the first US Supreme Court case freeing African captives. The replica Amistad has visited 70 domestic and international ports as a symbol of this human rights milestone.
In 2008, the Amistad undertook a 14,000-mile transatlantic sail to Africa. On March 25 of that year, the Amistad was linked via satellite directly to the UN as the General Assembly voted to commemorate that date as the bicentennial of the pioneering British act that first outlawed the slave trade. Students from six countries sailed legs of the Africa voyage. Soon thereafter, the Amistad was designated as floating ambassador for the UN Permanent Memorial to Honour the Victims of Slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade. The vessel's most recent port of call was Santo Domingo, for a week of programs for youths from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Following the current Caribbean tour, the vessel will visit five cities historically linked to the 19th century slave trade: Savannah, Charleston, Norfolk, Washington DC and Baltimore. The next heritage tour will include visits this summer toBoston, Halifax and seven Great Lakes ports, culminating in Chicago. In December, the Amistad sails back to Africa.
Note: for photos of the Amistad under sail, see http://amistadamerica.org/cuba-2010-info
SOURCE Amistad America Inc.