Farmingville, NY - On Sunday September 1, 2019 Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright (left photo,center), members of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association and many other civil rights and community leaders and members met at the Port Jefferson Harbor for a historic and educational sail on the replica "La Amistad" slave ship. The original ship was the subject of 1839 slave revolt in which enslaved Africans from the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone revolted against their Spanish captors. The captives took control of the ship and directed the remaining crew to steer back to Africa, but the crew steered north, and La Amistad was captured off the coast of Long Island.
"The events of the Amistad ship and the subsequent legal battles played a pivotal role in the United States legal system as well as on the international stage. The ultimate determination of the freedom of the African slaves on the Amistad had a profound and lasting impact on the United States abolitionist movement," stated Councilwoman Cartright, who also served as the Past President of Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association. "The Amistad ship is the namesake of our Bar Association which seeks to encourage and empower black law students and attorneys to diversify the legal profession and have their own profound and lasting impact on our legal system."
"The Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association, like the 53 Mende captives whose fight for freedom sparked an international battle about slavery more than 180 years ago, has tried to make the United States live up to the calls of liberty and equality promised by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution," said Amistad Bar Association Co - founder Victoria Gumbs Moore.
The passengers on the sail included various attorneys, community members and community activists. Among the group were longtime Long Island civil rights activists Eugene Burnett, 90, of Wheatley Heights, and his wife Bernice, 89. Burnett said "it was a beautiful afternoon, I was impressed with the amount of young people there and they were very attentive to the goings on. I was impressed with the historical information that was provided about the mindset of the slaves and slave masters at that time. I am very happy that we are keeping our untold history alive and well with our young people."
Amistad Co-Founder J. Stewart Moore said: "this was a great opportunity to reflect on the issue of 400 years of US slavery. We shall not forget; we won’t forget, and we shall continue the journey toward achievement; accomplishments and equality as Americans to the full extent of the law."
Historian and Executive Director and Curator of the Eastville Community Historical Society, Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, stated, “The collective action and ultimate human spirit in the end helped them gain freedom, although their lives would never be the same.”
For more information regarding the Schooner Amistad, read United States v. The Amistad 40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 518 (1841). For more information regarding the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association, please visit http://www.amistadblackbar.org/.
Division of Public Information * Office of the Supervisor
One Independence Hill • Farmingville • NY 11738 • Phone 631-451-6595