African Landing Day celebration features museum exhibit

Published: Aug. 28, 2021 at 9:30 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s been 402 years since Africans were first shipped over to the United States to be slaves. To honor them, their pain and resilience, Vermonters are celebrating First African Landing Day on Saturday.

First African Landing Day is a daylong celebration hosted by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.

This year’s celebration features a traveling museum from the Hampton Museum in Hampton, Virginia inside the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington. The exhibit, called “Toward Freedom,” features eight panels, which tell the story of a group of slaves who escaped the South to the North in search of freedom.

“In their quest for freedom, they found the Union Army and as they found the Union Army, they were hoping to be declared as free. They were not. They were declared as contraband because the counter forces would use them against them. It’s a rich story that’s told,” said Mark Hughes, the executive director of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.

First African Landing Day will take place at Intervale Center from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Along with the museum exhibit, there will also be food, live musical performances, storytelling, and dance.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance says a portion of the proceeds from the event will go toward the creation and funding of the Cultural Empowerment Center in Burlington.

“Toward Freedom” will be on display until September 9.

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