- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Tuesday night's rains washed away many expected guests at the National Maritime Heritage Foundation's fund-raiser aboard the Odyssey, a Potomac River cruise ship.
Many of those who did attend donned trench coats over their tuxedos and formal pantsuits as they walked down to the District's waterfront in Southwest.
Despite the inclement weather, everyone seemed to have a good time gambling or pretending to gamble and partaking in the silent auction and lavish buffet. All the while, partygoers admired the little piece of American history, the Freedom Schooner Amistad, docked just a few feet away.
The maritime foundation brought the schooner to the city as part of Washington's Cherry Blossom Festival.
The 129-foot-tall ship is a re-creation of La Amistad (Friendship), the Spanish cargo schooner taken over in a mutiny in 1839 by 53 enslaved Africans. Those events were depicted in the 1997 movie "Amistad," directed by Steven Spielberg.
The organization honored the Amistad's captain, William Pinkney, during the gala.
"To bring the ship up to Washington was very exciting because it's a historical part of the early Eastern waterfront, and the reception was just incredible," Capt. Pinkney said.
He added that wherever the ship docks, it galvanizes young people and brings people of different races together in understanding the nation's troubled history in the slave trade. Both are missions of the foundation, Executive Director Peg Tigue said.
"Our goal is to promote unity and a deeper understanding of the cultural diversity in our metropolitan area, the nation and the world," she said.
The foundation held the event to raise money to build its own tall ship, to be called the Spirit of Enterprise. The replica merchant vessel will be available for the residents of the city to enjoy and for use as an educational tool to keep District youth in touch with the country's past and the city's maritime heritage.
Burl Haigwood, 43, a Web-development-company owner who volunteered his time to the project early on, said the effort is making strides every day.
"And [D.C. Mayor] Anthony Williams' Anacostia Waterfront Initiative is making it easier," Mr. Haigwood said.
The National Capital Revitalization Corp. is negotiating with the maritime foundation about donating land in one of the pocket parks in East Potomac Park to build the ship, he said.
Mrs. Tigue said the Amistad host committee also will draw attention to the "Pearl affair" of 1848, in which slaves attempting to escape took a schooner at night but were captured within hours and punished.
"The Pearl was a ship that departed from the Seventh Street port just nine years after the Amistad incident, carrying 77 slaves from Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria," Mrs. Tigue said.
In addition to building the Spirit of Enterprise, the foundation also wants to build a replica of the Pearl, which will be part of an educational project for city youth.
"Having our youth probably high schoolers get involved with that project will be a rewarding experience for us," she said.


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