ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – This year, the city of Savannah and Chatham county proclaimed March 6 the Weeping Time Weekend.
It's a small victory for Kiplyn Primus, who is part of the committee working to commemorate the largest recorded sale of slaves in American history.
The committee has been pushing for several years to get a memorial built that recognizes America’s racist history.
“With this kind of recognition, we are really thinking that we're going to be able to build our permanent commemoration to these 426 people who should have been citizens of our state,” Primus said.
In 1859, more than 400 men, women, children and babies were sold at the two day auction at a race track in Savannah.
It rained throughout the entire event leading African Americans to call it ‘The Weeping Time’ referring to the torrential downpour as God’s tears.
“What I really want to ensure is that 100 years from now, someone like me isn't discovering this story for the first time.,” said Primus. “I want it to stay in our consciousness because it's a very important thing that happened in our state.”
For the second year, Primus will take a bus of people to Savannah to honor the 161st anniversary.
Photographer Sue Ross went last year and documented the experience for Sistagraphy, a collective of black women photographers she helped found 26 years ago.
“I think it's something that's going to hit you in your soul,” said Ross. “To walk where they walked, to stand where they stood. To remember all of those people being sold one-by-one, or family-by-family, that was really the experience.”
For many on that trip, like Jena Jones, it was the first they'd heard of this dark chapter.
Primus helped bring it to light on her radio show, ‘The Local Take’ on WCLK during an interview with Dr. Kwesi DeGraft-Hanson, who is behind the push to build the memorial.
“I didn't know anything about the weeping time until I heard Kiplyn's interview,” said Jones. “And I was really rather shocked about it because I grew up in Atlanta's public school systems – elementary school and high school – and that was not part of Georgia history.”
Brock Elementary School now sits on the race track where the auction took place.
As part of this year’s program, the students will participate in the remembrance ceremony.
Music teacher Akirah Renee said attending last year’s trip gave her a sense of identity and feel a connection to her ancestors she’d never experienced.
“I just think about people who’s families they know they came from some Scottish island or whatever and they can see pictures of their families and they have little artifacts from their grandparents,” said Renee. “But you know I don't have that type of thing not from 100, 200 years ago so it gives you that kind of tangible experience.”
The Weeping Time Commemoration 2020 is March 6-8. The tour includes hotel accommodation, and roundtrip transportation from Atlanta to Savannah and Darien. For more information, click here.