The Sacred Journey: Re-Making Our World Anew observes the first anniversary of the dedication of the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland. The event takes place rain or shine on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland campus on Saturday, November 13.
“St. Mary’s College, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Historic St. Mary’s City are located on grounds hallowed by the lives and bodies of the enslaved of Southern Maryland who made an immeasurable contribution to the world we inhabit today,” said Tuajuanda C. Jordan, president of St. Mary’s College. “The Sacred Journey is our public genuflection to the principle that on this ground we are called upon to be special custodians of the history of pain and suffering, love and loss, exploitation and degradation, and of course slavery that haunts this historic landscape.”
The two-part program begins at 1:30 p.m. in the Auerbach Auditorium of St. Mary’s Hall with a Panel of Remembrance and Reverence that focuses on the experiences of the enslaved and their descendants. The panel will feature a keynote speaker to be announced; Julia King, professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s College; and guest speakers from Historic St. Mary’s City and Sotterley Plantation. The panel is sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Following the panel, Father John Ball of Trinity Episcopal Church will offer a blessing at a presumed burial site of enslaved people. St. Mary’s College President Jordan will then lead the Procession of Dignity, traversing the campus to the Commemorative to Enslaved Peoples of Southern Maryland beginning at approximately 3:05 p.m. The procession will pause to reflect at the Commemorative site and hear the spoken word poetry that sides the Commemorative before processing to the water’s edge that was so crucial in the lives of the enslaved. Along the way, the procession will honor those who resisted at the first documented site of such resistance. At the River Center beach along the St. Mary’s River, the lives of those enslaved will be honored with a reading of the enslaved names, celebration, libation, remembrance, and reflection. The Reception of Reflection follows the Waterfront Ceremony and will have refreshments for participants in the walk as well as reflections on the Sacred Journey.
Walking the Procession of Dignity is an opportunity to walk the roads that the enslaved walked, to contemplate the lives that they lived, and to give value to the idea of the unbroken chain that links the present and the past. The procession also serves to proclaim the unity of our community, our commitment to treating one another with dignity, and our shared responsibility to preserving the history of the enslaved persons who had inhabited our ground. It is a public sacrament that restores and reaffirms the dignity and humanity of the enslaved.
The Procession of Dignity is a two-mile walk on paved and bricked walkways, with varying elevations. For those who cannot walk the route, a limited number of people movers will be available. For those who wish to drive to the Commemorative and to the waterfront, limited parking will be available near both sites.
The event has been overseen by the Sacred Journey Steering Committee consisting of (Chair) Garrey Dennie, associate professor of history; Kelsey Bush, chief diversity officer; Julia King, professor of anthropology; Ellen Kohl, assistant professor of environmental studies; and Erin Peters, director of Boyden Gallery and Collection and lecturer for museum studies.
To participate in either the Panel of Remembrance and Reverence or the Procession of Dignity, reservations are required. To make reservations or for more information, visit www.smcm.edu/sacredjourney.