ANNUAL SACRED LIBATION CEREMONY FOR OUR SISTERS
The community remembers Black women lynched
Spiritually-conscious women and men of African descent will gather 3:00PM sharp, Sunday, March 29, rain or shine, at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Second Annual Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of the 150 documented Black women who were lynched between 1870 and 1957.
In March 2014, the first annual Sacred Libation Ceremony for the women was conducted by Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett and a group of priests of Philadelphia’s African American Yoruba/Orisha community. Although it rained that day, approximately 30 people came to witness the ritual – some from as far as New York and Washington DC. The ceremony has now been instituted as an annual ritual on the last Sunday in March as part of Women’s History Month.
In addition to libation being poured by Jewett in the Yoruba tradition, women from other traditions also will participate. The Queen Mothers of the Philadelphia Asante Nation – Nana Afua Afriyie Kyeiwaa, Philadelphiahemaa and Nana Akua Oforiwaa Amanfo, Philadelphia Asonahemaa, will pour libation in the Akan tradition from Ghana. They will be accompanied by the women of the Philadelphia Asante Abusuafoo. Other holy women participating includes well-known healer/education activist Mama Gail Clouden and her godchildren.
How did this all come about? Last year, while perusing stories on Dr. Boyce Watkins’ “Your Black World” news website, Jewett came across a story entitled, “Black women were lynched too!” written by blogger Yolanda Spivey. Although she was a student of history and knew about the list of 5,000 documented lynchings of people of African descent in the U.S., Jewett wasn’t aware of the number of women who were included. Neither was Spivey.
“I can’t begin to tell how shocked I was to learn the depths of what happened to lynched Black men and women in this country,” said Spivey. “I wasn’t naïve about the lynchings, but I was definitely naïve to learn the circumstances surrounding their murders. The Black women in some cases were pregnant — and that didn’t matter to the white people who murdered them. They were, in all circumstances, murdered for the silliest infractions or implicated in crimes that they did not commit.”
Spivey’s story (http://naturallymoi.com/2014/02/yolanda-spivey-lets-not-forget-that-black-women-were-lynched-too/) led Jewett to a website owned by Brother Nnamdi Azikiwe, that’s dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent leader in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The website (https://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/) provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, why and with whom they were lynched. After reading details of the lynchings, the Egun (ancestors) began speaking to Jewett and instructed her that she must do more than send an email informing people about the history.
“They needed libation poured for them to uplift and bring light their souls,” Jewett explained. They wanted to be remembered and have their stories told. They wouldn’t let me rest. It was physically and spiritually painful. I couldn’t sleep for the two weeks leading up to the ritual. I kept asking them why me? They replied that it was part of my destiny and that I had to do it.”