Located on Amelia Island, the southern-most sea island in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage corridor, Fernandina Beach, Florida, held an ancestral remembrance ceremony on September 28, 2013. This event to honor Africans who died in the Middle Passage and those who survived was led by Queen Quet of the Gullah Geechee Nation. A diverse representation of residents and visitors gathered to sing, to place flowers in the water, to pour libations, and to acknowledge the city’s history related to the enslavement of captured Africans. From Amelia Island’s beginning as a European settlement in the 16th century, Africans were a local presence. Particularly under the British, then after the Revolutionary War under Spanish rule, and later following the US Constitutional ban on the international human trade, Fernandina was the hub for the importation, trading, and smuggling of captured Africans into Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
As part of the city’s Viva Florida 500 commemoration, the ceremony was the highlight for many who participated in the day’s events. This inclusion of African and African American history is to be celebrated, and we have learned that a historic marker related to this history will be installed. More than eighty persons joined hands and symbolically repaired a broken circle in Old Town at the Plaza San Carl.