Black History Month: Gorée Island - Giving context to the present

Black History Month: Gorée Island - Giving context to the present

BE Connect Groups and Lantixs Connect ask you to Embrace Black Culture during Black History Month. During this month, BE Connect and Latinx Connect will focus on both People and Community. There are many black historical locations that may be within a couple of miles of where you live. Our employee's will be sharing the history of some of those areas and what it means to them.

We would like for you to participate this month and Embrace Black Culture actively. We urge everyone to visit some of those locations and provide us with your comments, pictures, and selfies.

When we celebrate Black History Month, we remember passionate leaders fighting against injustices and for equality. We forget where they come from and that a location can hold valuable meaning. Our Black Employees Connect (BE Connect) group wanted to celebrate this year by sharing personal stories about connections to historical sites, reminding us of their continued importance.

Where do you go to find the roots of Black history? Well, we must go back in time to give context to the present. Albemarle's Anna Lo says that starts with a look at the Island of Gorée in her home country of Senegal. Gorée Island is a grim reminder. It's where many of our Black ancestors, kidnapped to be sold as enslaved people, started their journey to America and changed the course of history.

The island of Gorée was the largest slave-trading center on the African coast. Ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French from the 15th to the 19th century. For months, many were packed in small cells, forced to stand naked in the courtyard to be examined and priced like cattle. Many of our American ancestors had to then go through the "Door of no return." Here, you were put on a ship to an unknown destination, not knowing what lies ahead, to begin a life of slavery. Still, somehow, they believed in a better future and found hope to overcome their situation. That hope spread into action and eventually changed the United States.

"Even though Goree Island is one of the greatest tragedies in Black societies, what strikes me more is our ancestors' tenacity, resilience, and perseverance. That's our connection to Black History Month. We need to continue to pull from that energy. The battle may look different now, but we are still fighting for justice, equality, and equity, and we must not give up," Anna Lo stated.

There is no way to undo what happened at Gorée Island, but the lessons are what we must remember to embrace Black culture. People like Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Ruby Bridges were changed by their ancestors' experiences.

"We have come a long way, but let's not forget where we came from and ensure a better future for the next generations," Anna Lo said.

Anna hopes everyone can take a trip to Gorée Island. The journey may have started with despair, but the spirit lives on through the committed descendants who fight for freedom.

Prison Cells - Goree Islands

--Anna Lo was born and raised in Senegal. She came to the United States during her High School years. She’s now a Senior Director of Supply Chain Center of Excellence.