Day of Healing: Commemorating 400 years since first African’s arrival


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A weekend of commemoration continued in Hampton on Sunday.

It was a day of healing at Fort Monroe — part of many events to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on the shores of North America.

As the commemoration continued Sunday, the ideas centered on healing and moving forward. People 10 On Your Side spoke with say it’s hard, but necessary and it can be done.

Nancy Bell was one of many who wrote on a board that asked event-goers to write what healing means for them.

“I wrote ‘without faith there is no healing.’ That’s what I wrote because I feel like without faith, without the power of God in your life, the healing power of God, that there is no way to heal,” said Bell.

Everyone there is trying to heal from one thing or another, but Bell said there is one thing we’re all healing from.

“We were brought to these shores against our will and all that has gone on and we’re still healing today from what is still going on today,” she said.

“Slavery broke the world in half, and so we’re here to try and pick those broken pieces and be whole again,” said Chadra Pittman

Powerful speakers, musical performances and prayer carried throughout the day, but Pittman says perspective makes all the difference.

“People come out and they’re here and they’re celebrating not slavery, cause we don’t celebrate slavery, they’re celebrating the ancestors, the courage, we’re remembering them,” she said.

She said that means something to everybody. “That means people of African descent, that means people of European descent, that means gay, straight, religious, nonreligious — it doesn’t matter. We’re all human beings and once we respect the humanity of one person to another, we will be able to move hopefully forward,” she added.

So how do we heal? Bell said it begins with forgiveness.

“When you forgive, you have healing. You can forgive, when you have faith you can forgive and that is a large part of the healing,” she said.

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