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Sacred Ceremony Remembers Black Women Who Were Lynched

By Michael Z. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Mar 30, 2016 - 9:46:11 AM

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PHILADELPHIA—A sacred ritual to bring light and love to the souls of martyred Black women was held at Head House Square in Philadelphia. The sacred ritual was used to honor the more than 150 women who were lynched in this country between 1870 and 1957. This was the third time the ceremony was held.

Iya Marilyn Kai Jewitt
Libation was poured March 20 by the ritual’s organizer Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett in the Yoruba tradition and Nana Okomfo Akosua Nyo Agyiriwah poured libation in the Akan tradition. Female priests from other traditions also participated in the ceremony.

As libation was poured the names of those victimized were read in a solemn manner by various women.

Wesley Wilson Bey, a longtime community activist, was present for the ceremony. He told The Final Call, “I’m here today to pay tribute to the sisters that were lynched here in America. These are our mothers and we must honor them and let the ancestors know that the atrocity that has befallen them was not for nothing and they did not die in vain.”

Nnamdi Azikiwe from Washington, D.C., who addressed those gathered, was responsible for documenting the names, dates and places where the women were lynched. He has a web site that’s dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent leader in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

Mama Gail Stewart-Clouden

The ceremony served as a conduit for ancestors who brought their love and hope for Black people through the priests who participated. Mama Gail Stewart-Clouden said she would like the community to realize the power it has and the love the ancestors have for it. “People need to begin to know their strengths and use courage and faith as we address our issues. These can be drawn from the ancestors,” she said.

Ms. Jewitt summed up the sacred ritual best when she said the ancestors want people of African descent all over this nation to do exactly what we are doing here in Philadelphia. “We cannot separate ourselves, we all are one people and we must come together to fight the common enemy.  We need to tap into the power of our ancestors. We need to reach back and size our cultural traditions because that is what is going to save us.”

As the event ended the sky opened and rain began to fall like tears from those who were honored. For the many present the rain represented tears of joy for the prayers of the ancestors answered through their progeny.