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Honoring Their Memory

City Dock named UNESCO Slave Route Site

      Finding a way to acknowledge the bitter legacy of slavery has been a challenge for historic sites across the country. Helping give voice to the stories of the enslaved are historic markers, memorials and commemorations.

         Annapolis, which just unveiled an historical lynching marker on Calvert Street, is also now designated as a Site of Memory associated with the UNESCO Slave Route Project by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

         A marker will be erected at City Dock following community meetings to determine design and text.

         Joining 41 locations across the continental United States, Annapolis is now one of five sites in Maryland identified as a Middle Passage port of entry. These are places where children, women and men in bondage first placed their feet after leaving the continent of Africa. The marker will commemorate the lives of enslaved Africans — those who perished and those who survived — who were forced to endure the cruel trans-Atlantic journey known as the Middle Passage.

         “It is an honor for Annapolis to be a designated UNESCO site,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “It is important for residents and visitors to be reminded of history.”

         Historican Janice Hayes-Williams’ work, Buckley said, helped illuminate this “significant piece of the Annapolis story.”

         Launched in 2011, the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project has identified 52 locations in the U.S. as Middle Passage arrival sites. The non-profit organization seeks to educate and develop a more inclusive historical narrative to aid national healing and reconciliation.

         “Too many of us are either unaware of the tremendous significance City Dock played in the story of the trans-Atlantic slave trade or reluctant to acknowledge it,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “The marker will serve as a permanent reminder of the long and horrific reign of terror endured by African Americans in this country and in Anne Arundel County.”

         Annapolis joins port cities in Jamestown, Va.; Galveston, Texas; New Orleans; Camden, N.J.; Philadelphia and many others with a marker as an acknowledgment of the history of the trade,” said Ann Cobb, executive board member of the project

         In Maryland, Annapolis, Historic London Town, Historic Sotterley and Fells Point in Baltimore have been designated UNESCO Sites of Memory. Oxford, on the Eastern Shore, has also been identified as a documented Middle Passage arrival site.