Slave Trade History Remembered in Key West

The Dos Amigos/Fair Rosamond Slave Ship Replica Project
Southern Office: 80 NW 51 Street, Miami, FL 33127-2114, U.S.A.
T: 305-904-7620 E: dinizulu7[at]

August 20, 2012
Contact: Dinizulu Gene Tinnie, 305-004-7620, dinizulu7[at]


A recently established but highly significant Key West tradition will continue in Sunday, August, 26, at 5:00 p.m. with the official Annual Observance of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition (officially August 23), at the 1860 Key West African Cemetery monument on Atlantic Boulevard, just west of the White Street Pier and adjacent to the West Martello Tower fort.

The Cemetery is the burial site of 295 Africans, mostly children and youth, who were among a group of 1,432 persons rescued from three American-owned slave ships bound for Cuba which were captured by the U.S. Navy steamships as the nation edged ever closer to Civil War. The deceased succumbed to the illnesses and unspeakable conditions they had suffered during the ocean crossing as the survivors were detained in Key West for twelve weeks, awaiting their return to Africa.

The captives’ detention in Key West garnered generous support from the local community as well as national attention, adding much to the political drama of the time.

The August 23 date was chosen by the United Nations for the International Day of Remembrance as a commemoration of the beginning of the Haitian Revolution, the most successful revolt against slavery, which led to the establishment of the second independent republic in the hemisphere (after the United States), and not only became a beacon of hope for other enslaved populations, but also offered vital assistance to Simon Bolívar and his struggle for independence in South America.

The August 26 date of the Remembrance has special significance for the Key West African Cemetery, as this was the date when the first of the surviving rescued Africans arrived in the West African nation of Liberia.

The Remembrance also includes a special recognition of several ongoing projects and achievements, including July’s expedition by the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS) to locate the 1827 wreck of the Spanish slave ship Guerrero, and the recent discovery of the 1860 slaver Peter Mowell in the Bahamas, in addition to the official designation of the Cemetery as Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In all of these developments, the Key West-based Mel Fisher Maritime Museum has played a leading role.

The Cemetery’s importance is also about to be heightened by the addition of further structural components to the memorial monument, and by a forthcoming redevelopment of the Higgs Memorial Beach area, which includes a rerouting of Atlantic Boulevard around the boundaries of the burial site, thus restoring much of the site’s original integrity.

Moreover, the Observance of the International Day also embodies a number of national and global connections, including similar ceremonies in such other cities as Baltimore, and similar cemeteries, like the recently uncovered burial site of a number of Africans liberated from captured slave ships on remote St. Helena Island in the South Atlantic

Sunday’s informal gathering welcomes community participation, including the placement of flowers at the African Cemetery memorial monument. For further information, call 305-904-7620.



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