Agnes Blackmon and Kiplyn Primus
DescriptionThe Reverend Dr. Agnes Blackmon (75) talks with friend and fellow pilgrim, Kiplyn Primus (57), about their experiences during the Jamestown to Jamestown Year of Return trip to Ghana in August 2019.
- Agnes Blackmon
- Kiplyn Primus
Recording LocationGolden Tulip Kumasi City Hotel
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00:02 We are on our way.
00:05 My name is kiplyn Primus. I am 57 years old and today is August 24th. 2019. I'm in Kumasi Ghana and I'm talking with one of the other pilgrims for the year return in Ghana.
00:28 My name is Robin. Dr. Agnes Blackmon. I am 75 years old today is 82419. I am at Kumasi Ghana and I am with my friend as we journey trying to make up and connect the 400 years. It has passed since we were year.
00:52 So Reverend Agnes Blackmon, why did you decide to participate in this trip for the year of return?
01:04 I'd love Ghana out of my travel in the continent of Africa thinking that I would be able to spend them of haha. But when this trip came up, it seemed to have the ingredients. So what I was looking for the connection with the ancestors and in different ways, it was laid out. So it was exciting to me to try it because we were not only touching one city will moving across to Garner at a fast pace. And so I thought it would be good in the idea that it was going to be like a lot of people I expected others would be like me when they saw the announcement and so I'm glad I did and this trip is called Jamestown to Jamestown because we started on the James River in Jamestown, Virginia. So can you share a little bit about that experience what it was like to be there in Jamestown where the first 20-odd slaves were brought.
02:03 The minute my foot hit Jamestown.
02:09 It became clear that this was going to be a different kind of Journey. I begin to feel things and actually hear things it felt as if the wind was whispering different things to me and it didn't get better or worse. But different experience is the drums the drums the drums just bought back all kinds of things and then the entire nations and the talking about what actually happened wild 400 years ago what happened when when they landed and how they were treated just bought back all the things that I knew that may have pushed it all the way back. And so I had to say to myself. This is just Jamestown, Virginia when we get to Jamestown Ghana, I will probably be a wreck and that's true. And so we went to the museum Smithsonian Museum of African American history.
03:09 Culture and got on a plane and got off in across and didn't even relax a little bit. Once we got to the hotel's we got dressed to go to Jamestown which is called old and older car. So can you share a little bit about what that experience was like being welcomed by the Chiefs and by the president of the Republic of Ghana I think this will be one of the memories that I hold dear for the rest of my life. And you know, I have a true did not know what to expect an unexpected gift of love. That was the first thing I felt and again the cheer the minute the drum started playing my eyes well up with tears then I didn't know that I would actually be able to be in
04:09 Bob in the ceremony of the ones that were doing the forgiveness and ask him for forgiveness by giving us a secret a secret rope around my neck in terms of what was received and being able to shake hands kiss and just touch the chief and all of the different people like specially appreciated the Whitman cuz it was so warm not only they would lean and so that you knew it was okay to hug them and so I enjoyed it and it just kept going on and on and on with different things just when I thought that was it. We got a chance to shake the king's hand and not only did it shake it was very warm and very sincere. So I appreciate it so much the sincerity.
05:02 Of of everyone that was their energy and some of us was just hugging and crying just hugging and crying because that's the feeling that many of us have what I'm 75. So 75 years. Basically you're holding that inside and you're holding it inside because sometimes you did not have an opportunity to express it. Sometimes maybe when you're at the Museum maybe when you're at other museums and maybe when the elders and your family love talked about it, but talking about it and being there and seeing it is two totally different things after I just I couldn't get over it. I mean, I'm flash back I could not get over. It was just wonderful wonderful and it was a true welcome. They kept saying everyone said welcome home. Welcome home in the the ladies the elders all dress.
06:02 Turn white as they put the reef of Nia wrapped in cloth around our next. Did you expect that kind of welcome?
06:16 Actually, that was probably the most cynical thinking.
06:21 Anime, I was coming to see basically but I thought it would be a put on like many other things of this nature. So I was taken by surprise but glad that it really was what they said. It was going to be. I mean the whole time it was your home. Welcome home, welcome home and not just the words because she's sometimes people can speak things and you know, it's not the truth but sincerity for the death of their heart and some of them shed tears or so and if they were not shutting the Tears by the time they decided to hoge's and you felt each other's heartbeat, then that's when the tears are really coming from them also, because two to ask for forgiveness after 400 years are so long. Of time to admit I did something wrong.
07:18 That's hard to do and to face whatever we were going to give them. They didn't know how we were going to receive it. But I think both sides did well we were taken up back they were taken aback because we were friendly we leaned and we will accept and I love you know, and and they accepted our loved and truly looking around that Stadium. You saw your auntie you saw your grandmother. You saw your cousin's you saw you so that was that was just wonderful. When is the things that I wasn't really taken aback but the libation ceremony and the fact that that's something you know, we do all the time when you know, you have a drink with friends you be poor little bit of libation, you know for the friends that are passed on. What did you think about that that that reminded me? I took part of me.
08:18 Libations ceremony for a friend who lost his mother and he had to go back home and then the elders were out of another function and so I was feeling and until they got there and saw one Elder thought because I was African-American that I can possibly know anything about Libations when I finished. She said I'll take you back to Ghana but it it was good. I was kind of thought that even when you have Spirits before you indulge and you must pour off for the ancestors, the ancestors are very pleased when you do that and so that just solidified and validated that that part weave. We remember that correctly.
09:08 And then I think one of the most surprising events of the dinner of the strip has been the dinner at the action center with lazy lady Rosa Whitaker and her husband rev duncan-williams. Can you just tell a little bit of how about how that event make you feel?
09:28 Okay, all along we've been told that we are royalty. We didn't believe it. We walked into a palace. I mean just fabulous. We were treated. Well, we had someone assigned to us to take care of us. And then I kept saying I'm royalty. This is really a tender everyone again welcomed us they put on a show for us to show their appreciation all through the show every venue. They used it has something to do with the welcome us back home. And so I'm convinced even though in My DNA is says, ROM. I don't know, okay.
10:19 Incels the last two days in my opinion have been the hardest. We went to the cape Coast dungeons on 2 days ago or day ago and then this afternoon we went to the last River where the slaves were bathe and polish before marched marching the 31 miles to Cape Coast dungeon just a little bit about what it meant to you to be in that place where clearly our ancestors were and to go through those dungeons in to see those sales just a little bit about what that meant to you.
11:05 What's hard?
11:08 And I didn't know how I was going to react because I I did this my son of it all and Senegal it was worse, but it was hard again because you are remembering that says flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood that went through all of this and to have to go and listen to it over and over every room in each room was more atrocities in the one before and then in the middle of of of one of the rooms I said to myself, how could we do this to each other? How could any other man or woman do this to another man and woman and then by this time I'm angry and I'm beginning to cry like and then others are looking at me because they don't understand I guess why I'm crying. Well, I feel this from the bottom of my heart the core the deepest space in my heart. I felt it.
12:08 And then we kept going and going and I pull myself away from the group for a minute to try to get myself together cuz I don't fall down the stairs, right and came to me that the wind was trying to warn me that what you're going to see and what you're going to feel is a little bit of how we felt when we were driven into these rooms and treated like animals and treated like we're less than human and just doing everything to make us less of a man or less of a woman and avocado of a tour guide was straight-up. He did not pretty up anyting. He told it exactly the way it was including the rapes it took place in those rooms. Right and I'm going to say this a lot of people don't realize this in history men were raped as well as women.
13:07 And so then again my temper one up to 599 and then I had to calm myself down so I could continue walking and then by the time I got outside will know it was taking too long and my estimation for us to get to the door of of no return. I felt and I must be honest about that. The proper respect was not given to that door that it was just treated as swing it open now, that's not the way it needs to be done. We need to stand in front of that door with the with the clothes thinking about our ancestors. This was going to be the last time that they would ever see Ghana.
13:50 And how they didn't know what they were going to face in this place that they were going to they had no idea what they were going to face. So when the door opened it was just not right the way it was open and you know, we're standing way back here and the water is there you need to go look into the water to see what happened when they had to either walk through it or they bought a little boat to take it to the ship. So all of this not I'm angry at the way. It's been presented. Well, that's typical of me. I must say that if you're not if you're going to do it do it, right and so the I'm going to say our God was not responsible the God and the group before us we're not moving at the patient. They should move but the real experiences when you stand in front of the door and you pull open that door and
14:50 Can you Google this is the ocean that they've started out for this journey, so I felt a little bit about that. But since I have the other experience, I know how is your day and I started thinking about how I would feel.
15:10 If I was four hundred years ago, one of those persons that had to take the journey. I came to the conclusion. They would have killed me before I got If I Was the Same personality flaim Village of screwed me over the boat because that the ship because they were saying she's just too much of a troublemaker. She's starting riots. She's doing all kinds of things. So maybe if I'm sure but water converts to me is that there was people like I was on there there were rebellions on every ship that left Ghana there was Rebellion when they ported in St. James when they ported in Charleston South Carolina when they ported and Brazil wherever they went their rebellions for Eureka just name it there were there were rebellions but history does not tell us that history makes this sound like everybody was happy and having a
16:10 Adult I'm right. Oh, I enjoy and love your Masa. You know, please can I do anything else for you? And that's just not the truth. So attitude. I'm glad that the truth is coming out even if it's 400 years so that our children now will begin to get the knowledge of the things that we have to dig for. I'm not going to say that some of us didn't know because we jogged we know where to go. You know, we went to some Elders that were talk about the enslavement and so they they told us things. Yeah. So when is the thing that was shocking to me?
16:51 Was to learn that there was a church.
16:56 Built on top of the dungeon and I'm you know, I had heard before I came that there were three responses anger sadness or numbness.
17:09 I would have never guessed that my response was numbness. I just I couldn't I still haven't processed it.
17:18 But how do you put a church on top of a dungeon and they actually went in and prayed and worshipped?
17:28 On top of the dungeon where people were suffering.
17:33 I am a pastor.
17:37 I know that they did that cuz see there's a difference in worshipping the true God and worshipping at the way it should be cuz if they were really Christians we wouldn't be talkin about the enslavement. So once they did those destrophy dastardly Deeds, I wasn't surprised every Sunday every Saturday the same thing happens people go to church as a routine, but they're not living like they know God so I wasn't surprised they are put churches all over the world places where they've done things that you don't think humans should do to each other so I didn't care but we must remember we were not humans to them.
18:30 I know that's what they say. But the fact that they were having sex with the women and probably having sex with the man.
18:40 No, I mean to me that meant didn't prove that. We were human. I just don't I don't get it. I really don't know. I don't know if you're going to have this little line in here if you have sex with your dog, why would you not have it with somebody that you think is a dog? Okay.
19:02 So that was a very hard day for me. And like I said, I really am still trying to process it today was a hard day.
19:13 But it was a day that I felt it. So today we were at the last River the enslaved Africans are captured Africans were marched to this river that was 31 miles from Cape Coast. They were bathed and then polish they called it polishing with the palm oil so that they would be shiny and bright and look healthy. They were given food a little bit more food. And so that they would be you know up for the auction block. Actually. That's what they were getting them ready for The Auction Block.
19:52 How did you feel today? What was it like for you to walk in that River where our ancestors had their you know, last real bath before boarding those ships. Let me go to walking up to the river because things happened and I was purposely with a group but alone, I was inside my own self taken and every message that was being sent to me and I believe in the winter lot. It does Apostle. We use the wind in terms of the Holy Spirit. And so the spirit was just talkin to make a half way. I said, I'm not doing this. I'm just not going to do this and I stopped and then something say yes you are and so I walked on now I had a reaction.
20:42 Once we started singing waiting in the water God's going to trouble the water the water is because and then the the the deciphering that song God's going to trouble the water that's healing and so I put into my mind that once I got in the water some kind of healing with start the process would start it would begin and I will still be sad. I was still be broken-hearted. I will still reflect back probably next year this time still be thinking about this experience and then as I looked around I kept saying I wish I could go a little bit for the but that's not part of the program and you know getting out the thing. I like the camaraderie because your feet are wet and the ground is slippery and each person as you try to come up the hill they're reaching for
21:42 What I found beautiful was how we can be no matter what the title Czar Avirex chairman of the board put her hand out Rosalyn brought so that she could help pull me up and I just said Thank you gentlemen. Thank you so much. Right, but that was happening all around. I found that taking off my shoes. I don't like walking on dirt. I'm just being honest was a childish, but I took them off and I carat them and then when I began to feel the ground beneath my feet the foot is a soul of the body.
22:25 I began to say but wait I am walking in the tracks of those that walk before me 400 years Agnes or you're losing your mind that you didn't want to do this. Right? And so then I begin to put my foot firmly into the ground so that I could feel as if I could put my foot inside the imprint of a of an ancestor that went before us now get into the water. I want it a little bit more time. But we and Ava group we had 300 people do more so I thought that might not be fear. But if I ever get back again to Ghana, there's some things that I would do that would give me the kind of time that I need it so they just stepped out of Water and Light.
23:15 Right because of the the sound coming from the water and I know that you know about what I'm talkin about what sound and Paris talkin to us through the win and to be able to look around a little bit more. I did not look up to the sky one time.
23:36 That's unusual for me.
23:39 I was so focused on the water. Now. I know water is is a wonderful thing and water. That's why we're singing that song. We didn't know that we were going to send that negro spiritual water is a healing.
23:57 It's a healing and the fact that some of us who might not have spoken to each other were standing side-by-side in this water the same thing happened to Ava ancestors. They didn't know each other. Maybe they didn't grab them from the village, but it doesn't mean that they knew they were not in the same tribes are they were in tribes that were had conflicts with each other. So here we are strangers from all across the world basically all across the United States and we are acting and behaving as if we just known each other forever, no pretends all those that whatever your title is it when in the wind you just were and you were hugging everybody equally buy and sell coming out and walking back. I did that alone. I didn't want to do it in a crowd. I did it alone and then by the time
24:57 Got halfway through I was crying just crying trying to trauma of it all just let loose just let loose and when I came out and I know the photographer stuff to do at work, but it wasn't just a shine of the tears being held it was all done my face all done my face. So that was good just a little bit of human going on there. But like I said, the trauma of 400 years ago is going to take us a lifetime and I have a lifetime. I don't think we'll get over it, right.
25:32 Know when when we were approaching the water our guide actually had its close our eyes and say I'm walking in my ancestors Footprints and well that was moving. I don't even know if I needed it because they're I could definitely feel it. You could feel it and when they talked about the path that we walk down with a Groove that had been made by those ancestors that the you know, the river bank if it was flooded would have been much higher and that they had made that that walking path and you know to stand on those rocks and know that I was standing in the same place that they stood and I know you took some of the water so just share a little bit about what you do with these Waters that you collect so we got water from St. James and in Virginia.
26:32 And we got water here. Now part of my baptism ritual is that I take different Waters that have spiritual meaning. So now than they jump in the River Jordan like the Sea of Galilee right? And now I have the war from Jamestown Virginia mixed in with the water from Jamestown Ghana, right? And so that will be mixed up. So the next baby coming up gets to be baptized in the water and what I always do. Because I mixed it with what Poland Spring really I don't let the babies that water from the faucet and hover over it with my hands as I imagine. The Holy Spirit did when the world was be informing going from Darkness to light and then I have special valves that I put it in for the babies so that they could take it home with them and that's a memory, but I tell
27:32 X babies offender K and I'll say to the mom and dad put a couple of drops and don't Point use it. This is a lifetime bow. Wow. I'm so that that will be done and I'm just sold a lot and I'm so happy that's an extra treat because I had not really thought about it in the back of my mind but not pulling it to the front. So that's that's extra so I can hear my Church Santa old boy something else, right? But yeah, and so I'm happy about that because even with the little ones I think that even they know because they're traumatized NHL born from a person of color Latino Etc years later. We'll still traumatized because no one took the time to the brain us from the agonies of what we what we've gone through easily was psychologist and social worker is income.
28:32 Close around them, but that wasn't the purpose if they had done that we would be five times ahead of where we are. The purpose was to make us to be animals, right? And then that's when you flip it there then animals because if there is a God and if there is a heaven or hell, they the ones that wanted for that they didn't have jet planes done, but they had a fast speed going straight down to Hell, right? They had the chance of a snowball on a hot day trying to to get into heaven. You know, I know this forgiveness but the atrocities
29:15 I'm glad I'm not God. It wouldn't have made it anywhere near the Pearly gate.
29:23 I want to ask just a little bit about you personally. Tell me about your family your mom and dad your grandparents just a little bit about you you personally okay on the side of a family. They are from South Carolina and there's a lot of spirit the things that go in in South Carolina Charleston Georgetown a little town string in between I live my great-grandmother lived for me to see her she died at 20 when I was 21, so they never directly talked about.
30:02 Libyan slave nut because it was too painful because that's a my great-grandmother. I had to be close to a hundred and her cousin Aunt Frances had to be she was a little bit older every now and then they would say something and then you could just see the sadness in their eyes, but what they did constantly is tell us that we were somebody and that we came from queens and kings and that we would not junk cuz God did not make junk I grew up but that right on my father's side is a little bit tricky because my father is half Cherokee or was after Ricky and sold that into a ling ling of of the two groups of people that have been downtrodden because of the same people.
30:59 Commit was a double trauma.
31:02 Unfortunately, my father's people with strong and one way but not strong. And another I thought it was slipped that they pass out in the sun that mean then I have to be in the feels like it. So we were told that story while you're on call your uncle said every time he had to go on the field he pass out on the way to the fields, right and then others they start talking like they were going crazy and they're already fix something. So it look like they was salivating and doing seizures and stuff. Like I said, it was smarter than the history book of some so that combination
31:44 As Time passed and books were made available and some books that the family had were locked up in trunks.
31:55 Or someone that took the time to scribble and crude riding some of the things that happen. I have went to Miss Molly's house this morning and you know that I have I had the nerve to ask me to do her windows. Do I look like a man right now a lot of stuff like that was telling the story I am so tired of raising other people's children. You mean you don't have time to nursing home baby. You can't stand me but my girl baby is sucking my milk, right? So little things like that little little cookbook some here and there and my grandmother always use the word I swanny
32:38 Right. I'll learn latest like swearing out of clear. This is the truth that I'm telling you. She also when we came to her every summer in South Carolina when we were misbehaving. She said she was going to send us to Timbuktu so that we could get some learning and culture. We don't know what time we looked at each other and said tombouctou. Did she make that up cuz just making up stuff no, and so when I got a little bit older I went to the library around the corner from my house and I said to The Librarian Is there a place that exists called Timbuktu? She's become a baby. Oh my God come here and so little tidbits from them we learned and we will you know, we hold it there and the way they cook.
33:25 The black pot in the backyard, right? Something is balling. You know, you're cooking you're doing fish. You know, you're doing the okra just things that they didn't realize they remembered and they were repeating it. They were repeating it. So truly was on the Los the way they sang the way on my uncles and all of them could beat the body to Rhythm the way they almost did the boot down switch in South Africa, right? Just unreflecting back up. I kept saying we didn't get much but you picked out a lot and so I begin to pain some of those memories a book May Come eventually, right? And now on my dad's side. He talked a lot about the Trail of Tears.
34:18 We're on children was separated much. Like today was number 45 there was separated from the parents and they were sent to schools or they were sent to Cork Asian families the love they were and they were mistreated. They were not treated nicely and those home situation. They were forbidden to do anything in their culture. They tried same thing to do to us taking away the culture taken away the language but it's always somebody that's going to remember and so today is an example on on the reservations and I hate to say that work. How do you text somebody from their own land and fence them in?
35:04 How do you do that? That's another atrocity. So they are regaining and learning. They're doing the same thing. We're doing we're regaining of a culture. We're learning it will searching we are not giving up. We know that it's there. We going to piece it together like a puzzle and so is the same thing on both sides.
35:25 Now you mentioned 45 so I'm just going to ask this one last question. What did it feel like to be in that Stadium?
35:37 And the president of the Republic of Ghana saying welcome home.
35:43 And the president of the country that we are citizens of is letting crowd shouts. Send her back.
35:54 First of all, you do know that I think he's a fool, right? And because I'm a clinician I know he is. He's certifiably crazy. I want that on record. Okay.
36:07 I'm a New Yorker.
36:10 We've had him to all my life. He's been a fool when he was doing business with the housing. He's always he's gotten a little bit Bolder with his races. Somebody's always going to races. This is nothing new to me. Now every time he was shelter. Somebody go back home. I said you need to go back to Poland Germany, wherever you're from you changed your name so that you would appear to be English, but you are not you are a Jew and you are running away from the fact and I'm saying that to everybody I know cuz I want them to research that nail see for themselves you those people you pretend you love and you notice he's turn on the Jewish and Israel.
36:59 You are the person that don't want to admit your background, but it's like you don't want to show your taxes cuz you know, you are not a billionaire. Okay, so I felt so sad that our country has come to this point where the person that's supposed to represent freedom justice and the love of mankind wouldn't even know what that is wouldn't even know it and it's the worst time in the country. I think this feels so pre Civil War.
37:39 Because he doesn't realize it's a different group of people will go to war and I won't be anywhere else within the United States. He needs to realize that some people are radically enough to say what difference would it make no people maybe when they hear this maybe he'll know. We're not going to kill him because we don't want him to be a martyr. So we going to let him live because you don't make a martyr out of Satan you don't do that, but he has been this way everyone I think knowing if they don't they will know he has to go to a special school because it was a bully like it still is and his father had to send him to military school.
38:23 No in the military school, he's never been The Brightest Bulb in the chandelier. So in the military school, he couldn't do his work just like the college. She said he went to pay degree. He didn't earn it. So he was on medication.
38:43 You know that attention deficit disorder him just like a son his son has a little bit more of a mental issue because he might have a little rattling and some other things that you can tell by his stature. He never moves. He stands still like a robot so and the orange color that people laugh at it is not a suntan it is the effect of 70 years of being medicated. Right and I'm switching the drug to try to keep him calm the days you could take I want people to watch the days that he's really bananas. He did not take his medication that day and if you let him go two days, we'll see really how he is. So you mentioned you are your mom and dad and your great-grandparents. Could you do you remember their names? Could you give us their name?
39:38 Okay, my mother Agnes, she started out Agnes Crawford. And then it was Agnes sinclear and then Agnes tell them are okay my grandmother her mother the maternal mother. She was rethal Daniel and then she was rethal. What was it? Oh God. I'm going to forget.
40:09 I'm trying to think give me a minute. So let me get let me see fit to my great-grandmother. I'm sorry, I'm trying to do it that way. She was Roxie Crawford. And then / she was referred Dixon and then / she was Roxy Taylor and then flashes Rasika Markle. She outlived all those husbands, right? But my my own my grandmother where I was like losing her name was a simple named Rock of little stuff is full of a reasonable name on my dad's side. His name is Nae was awfully.
40:57 Davis Wright and his mother was Hattie Daniels and I think that we are relatives and didn't know if we didn't have DNA before she became Davis my grad Granddad. That's where the Cherokee came out his his American name was Gustav, which is funny. But Davis right? I don't know much about his mom, but that's about as far back as I can go off the top of my head. Well, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to share. It is very late at night in Kumasi. And I thank you for giving me this time to share just a little bit of how you felt in your story of them. You're welcome. And anytime is talking about our people. It doesn't matter. I'm a night owl. Anyway. Thank you so much.