U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced the Enslaved Voyages Memorial Act, legislation that would authorize a memorial along Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown waterfront commemorating enslaved individuals who were forcibly transported across the Atlantic. The legislation would specifically task the Georgetown African American Historic Landmark Project and Tour to establish a memorial honoring enslaved Africans who endured the Middle Passage. Companion legislation was introduced in the House earlier this year by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
By the 19th century, nearly 12 million enslaved Africans were forcibly transported across the Atlantic. The first enslaved Africans were brought to what would become the United States in late August 1619 – more than 400 years ago.
“We must never forget the painful reality that millions of enslaved Africans were forcibly transported to this land over hundreds of years of our history,” said Booker. “Although I rejoice in our progress, our nation still has a long way to go to reckon with and overcome the dark legacy of slavery and the violence and injustice that has persisted since its end. I am honored to join Representative Norton and introduce this legislation that will commemorate, honor, and celebrate the contributions of these enslaved people and help ensure that their stories are never forgotten.”
“Thank you to Senator Booker for introducing the Senate companion to my bill in the House, which passed the Committee on Natural Resources in January,” Norton said. “This bill, to authorize the establishment of a memorial on federal land in D.C. to honor enslaved persons, would honor enslaved persons’ presence, celebrate their contributions to history and recognize their resilience and fortitude. Let us honor the personhood of these individuals, who were repeatedly assumed to have none, so that they will never be forgotten.”