- The Washington Times - Friday, July 2, 2004

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The scene will be reminiscent of the arrival of slaves in the 18th century, but the re-enactors in yokes will be white and they will be led through the city’s historic streets by blacks.

The organizers of the Sept. 29 event call it a step toward creating racial empathy in Annapolis. It is the first stop on a tour of 10 East Coast cities by a European company called Lifeline Expedition.

“I think that the publicity that it will receive will be very positive for Annapolis,” said John Wilson, executive director of Respect, an umbrella organization of black groups in Anne Arundel County helping to organize the event. “This, while symbolic, is an important step to allow people to move on.”

Lifeline Expedition has organized similar marches in France, Portugal, Spain and other countries once involved in the African slave trade, organizer Joseph Zintseme said.

Leonard Blackshear, president of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation Inc., invited the group to Annapolis, Mr. Zintseme said. The group is named for the author who chronicled the forced journey of his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, through Annapolis in the book “Roots.”

The march will begin at City Dock, near a memorial to Kunta Kinte, and could stop at sites such as Middleton Tavern, a restaurant where slaves once were sold, and the Thurgood Marshall memorial on Lawyers Mall, said Carol Youmans, a foundation member.

“What the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation is hoping to do is to encourage recognition and awareness of the ramifications of slavery,” she said. “What we’re hoping for is … a pledge to work hard to eradicate the social damage.”

Previous marches have been well-received, but Miss Youmans said she could understand how someone might be upset by the Annapolis event.

“Of course, we’re concerned,” Miss Youmans said. “But we’re going to have the proper parade permits and the police are going to be on hand.”

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