American Roots: Annapolis and the African Slave Trade


While visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins in Maryland this past week, we took a day trip to Annapolis, a port town on the Chesapeake Bay that serves as the capital of Maryland.


Although a basic Google search didn’t offer much precolonial history on the area, Maryland has had people living in it since the 10th millennium BC, near the end of the last ice age.


Annapolis is home to the Naval Academy.

In later years, the eastern seaboard along the Chesapeake was settled by the Nanitocke tribes including the Annemessex, Assateagues, Wicomicoes, Nanticokes, Chicacone and the Choptanks.

These tribes suffered greatly from European diseases during the colonial period and were eventually driven out.


One of the most interesting sites on the historic City Dock is the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, a tribute to African ancestors who came to the New World through the slave trade.


The City of Annapolis’s website says: 

It also is for all people – African, Asian and European – who arrived in the New World in bondage, whose unpaid labor forged the backbone of this nation’s rise to greatness.”

A statue of award-winning writer Alex Haley sits near the harbor, portraying the author reading the story of ancestors’ past to a group of ethnically diverse children. Quotes from Haley’s ground-breaking “Roots” saga line the walls.


While I took photos of the memorial, two friends sat together near the monument sharing ice cream and smiling at a family boating in the harbor. One girl was black and the other was white. It reminded me of my own best friend and how grateful I am to people like Haley who dedicated their lives and creative work to “national racial reconciliation and healing.” Although we have a long way to go, it’s important to pay tribute to the history and sacrifice made in port cities all along the Eastern seaboard.


We must be in this place as one village!


Hear me! Though we are of different tribes and tongues, remember we are the same people!


This Story Wall is dedicated to those nameless Africans, brought to the New World against their will, who struggled against terrible odds to maintain family culture, identity and above all, hope.


Millions of Africans were stolen from their families and forced to endure the horrors of the Middle Passage and slavery. The New World was built largely on their labor, on the subjugation of Native Americans, and on the indentured servitude of Europeans, and Asians.


“The farthest back person they ever talked about was a man they called the ‘African.'”


Knowing our family is knowing ourselves. Our values and traditions are forged through the struggles, heartache, pain, hopes and dreams of our ancestors.


Alex Haley reading to children at the City Dock of historic Annapolis, Maryland.


“We all suffer. If a man’s wise, he learns from it.”

The strength and perseverance of  our ancestors such as Kunta Kinte, teach universal lessons including survival through faith, strength through family, and wisdom through forgiveness.



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