Key West event to honor African refugees

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The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition declared by the United Nations General Assembly will be commemorated at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Key West African Cemetery at 1074-1094 Atlantic Blvd., Key West. It’s located near Higgs Memorial Beach, between the White Street Pier and the West Martello Fort.

The event continues a tradition established in recent years to honor the memory of the 295 African refugees who were buried at the site in the spring of 1860.

1,432 rescued
It also recognizes the heroism and generosity of the Key West community, which came to their aid when the refugees and their captives, totaling 1,432, were rescued by the U.S. Navy from three American slave ships bound illegally for Cuba.

Many of the 295 who died from illnesses and abominable conditions endured aboard ships were children.

The presence of the surviving Africans in Key West during their 12 weeks of detention there as they awaited being returned to Africa (not their original homelands but the American colony of Liberia), by order of President James Buchanan, gained nationwide attention, drawing journalists and curiosity seekers from around the country to Key West.

For more information, call 305-904-7620.

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