Life and Religion
|Charlotte summit addresses impact of slavery on Africa and US|
|Planning underway for R400 meeting|
|Published Monday, May 13, 2019 3:47 pm|
|PHOTO | ASHLEY MAHONEY|
|Representatives of African countries met at the Park Church Expo and Conference Center as part of preparations for the R400 Summit.|
Centuries of African culture and lives were lost due to the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
September’s R400 Summit – reconnect, reclaim, reconcile and rebuild – at The Park Church Expo and Conference Center seeks to address the impact of slavery on the continent, as well as American descendants of the enslaved. Representatives from the African Union, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya and Mauritius met Monday at the Expo and Conference Center to prepare for the Park International Trade Hub and International Summit.
“This is a follow-up from the African Union Summit, where the AU formally adopted the commemoration of 400 years of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which will be here in Charlotte Sept. 26-28,” said Bishop Claude Alexander, The Park Church’s senior pastor. “The R400 Summit is an opportunity for the African continent and the African diaspora to reconnect, reconcile, reclaim what has been lost in 400 years, and reimagine the future. That is going to place both in the summit, and the establishment of a trade hub that becomes a one stop shop both for Africans desiring to do business in the U.S. and people desiring to do business on the continent.”
Summit preparations include meeting with fellow attendees, touring facilities and the city, and discussing what September will include. The 2020 summit will take place in Accra, Ghana.
“The failure of this event is no longer an option,” said Tanzanian representative Wilson Masilingi, who stressed the summit goes beyond those involved.
“We have a duty not only to ourselves, but to the world,” Wilson said.
When the subject of whether or not the city can handle a gathering of this capacity, Alexander noted that Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and will host the Republican National Convention next year.
“Charlotte is one of five cities in the U.S. that will have hosted both the Democratic National Convention, and the Republican National Convention,” Alexander said. “We have the hotel space and support space for that.”
Said Engineer Al Rutherford: “We have identified a minimum of 10 hotel properties that can be leveraged during [the summit]. We do not see hotels being an issue.”
The inaugural summit will serve as a cultural celebration, an area to exchange information, a space to foster leadership, as well as a venture platform, intending to impact agriculture, commerce, education, female empowerment and leadership, food security, healthcare and investing in the next generation.
“Charlotte was selected primarily, because the idea [for the summit] emerged from Charlotte,” Alexander said. “Charlotte has The Park International Trade Hub centered in The Park Expo and Conference Center, and the ambassadors, and more importantly the heads of state, saw the benefit of that.”
Alexander has been with The Park since 1990. He did not envision something of this scale taking place on his watch, yet here it is.
“Last year, through a conversation about just trade, we were made aware of the 400th anniversary,” Alexander said. “Immediately, that started sparking thoughts of how to engage the continent and the diaspora in reconnecting, reconciling and reclaiming. Through conversations with the president of Kenya [Uhuru Kenyatta] and the African Union Ambassador to the U.S., they saw it too. We were able to then go to the AU [Arikana Chihombori-Quao], and they owned it, so here we are.”
For more information: https://r4hundred.com
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