New Installation Remembering the Middle Passage

A Space for Remembrance, Contemplation, and Education

(outdoors, through August)
The Middle Passage Installation of Remembrance presents a large banner (17' x 5') featuring the image of human persons packed as cargo into a ship. Juxtaposed to this cruel, dehumanizing practice, are bold images -- faces and families -- of those who might be the descendants of enslaved persons, or what these persons might have looked like before having been enslaved. The installation includes a map showing the Triangular Trade Route over which captive people were transported and sold, as well as the quote (below) from the UNESCO Director-General.  Accompanying the visual installation are sound effects: waves, wind, gulls calling, timber creaking, chains rattling, and humans humming.


The United Nations has designated August 23rd the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. “The slave trade is not merely a thing of the past -- it has shaped the world we live in, it has molded the face of modern societies, creating indissoluble ties between peoples, irreversibly transforming economies, cultures and customs across the world,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.  “The slave trade concerns not only people of African descent but the whole of humanity.”

Gathered in 1669, Old South Church in Boston continues to research, name and account for a history which includes radical abolitionists and the first anti-slavery tract on this soil (1700) AND many early ministers and members who were enslavers, who benefited from the forced enslavement and unpaid work of countless persons of African descent. Since 2015 the church has held an annual Sunday of remembrance in which the names of African members from the 1600s, 1700s and early 1800s are read aloud and their lives remembered. The names of these members (few of whom were buried in marked graves) are etched onto brass leaves on the church's Memorial Tree.

Old South Church's Installation of Remembrance coincides with the dedication of the Boston Middle Passage Port Marker on Long Wharf (Sunday, August 22 at 2pm). The Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Marker Project plans to install a Marker at every port where enslaved persons were forcibly brought to these shores. The Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project was established to honor the two million captive Africans who perished during the transatlantic crossing known as the Middle Passage and the ten million who survived to build the Americas.