POP “Days of Sorrow” Program Examined Horrors of Slavery

(POP) held a virtual Black History Month program on Sunday, February 28, 2021, to examine the damage done to Black people by the
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Photo: Equal Justice Initiative

The People’s Organization For Progress (POP) held a virtual Black History Month program on Sunday, February 28, 2021, to examine the damage done to Black people by the institution of slavery.

It was titled A DAY OF SORROW: To Remember and Mourn The Suffering, Oppression, and Injustice That The Ancestors of Black People Endured During The Centuries of Slavery In The United States and the Western Hemisphere.

“We are having this program to strengthen the bond between us and our ancestors and to further our understanding of what happened to us during that terrible period,” stated Lawrence Hamm, Chairman, People’s Organization For Progress, who was the program moderator.

The program opened with the pouring of libation by Queen Mother Imakhu. “We pour libations to let our ancestors know they are not forgotten. We pour libations for all those who lost their lives,” she said.

The pouring of libations was followed by a simultaneous live performance by Queen Mother Imakhu and recorded performance of the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Baba Zayid Muhammad gave an update on political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal who was recently diagnosed with the Covid-19 virus.

“National and international calls must go out to put pressure on the State of Pennsylvania, the governor, the district attorney, and corrections department to get Mumia hospitalized,” Muhammad stated.

He also read a poem he wrote about the enslavement of Africans in this country titled “Blue Fire.” He said he was inspired to write this poem after the discovery of an African burial ground in New York City several decades ago.

This was followed by presentations by several scholars and activists.

“The African Holocaust was one of the more horrific episodes in recorded history. However, the resilience, genius, and strength of African people and her descendants, as evidenced by consistent resistance, should never be forgotten” stated Dr. Kelly Harris, Director, Africana Studies Program, Seton Hall University.

“We remember the horrors of slavery and the unshakable quest for freedom and liberation,” Dr. Harris said.

“To fully understand and appreciate the burden of enslavement of Africans in America, we must address the torturous and violent European slavocracy institution with accurate descriptions and analyses that are devoid of the niceties of the explanations for the past hundred years,” stated Dr. Akil Khalfani, Director, Africana Institute, Essex County College.

“This is necessary to create healthy healing space for growth and forward movement,” Dr. Khalfani said.

The resistance to slavery and Reparations was also discussed by the speakers. Dr. Willa Cofield, writer, activist, and film producer told the story of William Henry Singleton born a slave in 1843 on a plantation near New Bern, North Carolina.

During the Civil War “Singleton recruited and trained one thousand Black men who eventually became the 35th Regiment, United States Colored Troops,” Dr. Cofield said.

“His story showed the fierce resilience with which slaves tried to hold onto family and their deep devotion to the struggle for freedom,” she said.

Several of the speakers emphasized the need to draw inspiration from that painful chapter of the Black experience to continue the struggle for Black Liberation.

“As we remember the legacy of our liberation journey, we do not mourn as if there is no hope. In truth, we are inspired by the assurance that the commitment to the struggle for freedom continues to live within us to this day,” stated Rev Lukata Mjumbe, Pastor, Witherspoon Presbyterian Church in Princeton.

Hamm closed the program by thanking the speakers, performers and everyone who helped make it possible especially the program committee members POP Vice Chairwoman Ingrid S. Hill, POP member Marion Pitts, and Queen Mother Imakhu.

He also thanked Vice Chairwoman Hill and POP member Ian Burrowes for their technical assistance and production of the video broadcast.

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