Black Experience

Congressional Delegation Observes Anniversary of First Enslaved Africans in U.S.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will lead a congressional delegation to Africa for discussions with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, as well as to pay respects at the “Door of No Return” in observance of the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans landing in America.

The delegation will include Majority Whip James Clyburn, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, California Rep. Barbara Lee, iconic Georgia Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).

“Untold numbers of Africans passed through the ‘Door of No Return’ at what are now called Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle beginning in the 16th Century,” Johnson said. “Millions died in the transatlantic slave trade. Our visits to both castles revealed that they were dungeons of unspeakable cruelty and human degradation of the enslaved as well as the slave traders themselves.

“In 1998, the remains of former slaves [Samuel] Carson from New York and Crystal from Jamaica were returned to Ghana — passing through The Cape Coast Castle ‘Door of No Return’ for burial,” he said. “That door has been renamed ‘The Door of Return.’ It was emotionally draining to get a glimpse of the suffering endured by my ancestors as they took their last steps on the African continent walking out of the ‘Doors of No Return,’ while exhilarating to be welcomed back home by my Ghanaian brothers and sisters as we reversed our ancestors’ steps to walk into the castle through the ‘Door of Return.'”

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