MADISON, Wis. – This summer Alexander Gee Jr. took the trip of a lifetime.
He was among 250 African Americans who went to Ghana as part of the year of return, 400 years after their ancestors were taken from there as slaves.
“I feel very Madisonian,” Gee said. “I feel proud to be an American, but there was something about understanding that my history predates slavery.”
He brought back dashikis and photos – even Danny Glover was there – but something about the experience is what’s sticking still.
While there, he walked through the slave dungeon where hundreds were kept before being shipped away.
“It felt haunted,” he said.
Being there got him thinking about the hatred that forced Africans into their fate.
“For me, the question wasn’t, ‘How did people feel when it happened?’ I want to know, ‘How did it feel to do that to people?’ And what makes you think that you can trap people, rape children, sell bodies? What gives you that right?”
That thought and this trip aren’t something he’ll forget soon. He’s reminded of the residual effects of slavery to this day.
But this time, knowing what his ancestors did is what he’s taking with him.
“When I hear things that are happening to African American people, I’m not oblivious to those things, but there’s a deep peaceful centering that’s taken place inside me that says, you know what, I’m going to take the resilience that’s been a part of my lineage for centuries and I’m going to make things better,” he said.