Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brethren representative helps plan UN remembrance of slave trade.

The Church of the Brethren was represented at United Nations events on March 27 marking the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Doris Abdullah of First Church of the Brethren in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a board member of On Earth Peace, attended as the denomination’s credentialed representative with the UN and as a member of the NGO Subcommittee for the Elimination of Racism.

The subcommittee planned the events and recommended the speakers for morning and afternoon briefings. "Both programs went extremely well," Abdullah said.

A briefing on "Lest We Forget: Breaking the Silence on the Transatlantic Slave Trade," drew an overflow crowd and included the viewing of a documentary by Sheila Walkers, "The Slave Route: A Global Vision." Abdullah recommends the film for education in the church and community; it is a part of the UNESCO Slave Route Project, and will be available to the public.

Speakers at a session on the prevention of genocide included among others Yvette Rugasaguhunga, a survivor the Rwandan Tutsi genocide; Mark Weitzman, associate director of education for the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Rodney Leon, designer of the African Burial Ground Memorial in Wall Street.

The African Burial Ground Memorial is the grave site of 20,000 slaves discovered in 1991 at a construction site in lower Manhattan, Abdullah said. The architect’s design process for the memorial included education and an urban presence, along with "cultural, symbolic, spiritual, international, and interactive participation," she said. "To me it means that we truly ‘walk on holy grounds.’ These Africans were brutally taken from their homes, chained in a boat for months, enslaved for a lifetime, and entombed in concrete for centuries, with the moneyed class walking over their bones. One story of one people, but what a story."

Concerns raised by the briefings included hate games and violent games played on the Internet, the need for prevention of genocide and mass killings, and psychological recovery and reconciliation following genocide.

Source: 4/23/2008 Newsline

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