In the summer of 2005, I directed a silent siege at the Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT. The memorial honors a brave African, Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinquie who led a revolt on the slave ship La Amistad. The kidnapped slaves murdered many aboard and forced the remaining crew to take them back to Africa. Instead they ended up in America, where they were put on trial and later miraculously won their freedom in a landmark case before the Supreme Court. That case, “The United States vs. Amistad,” was the first civil rights trial held before the Supreme Court and a great victory for the abolitionist movement.
The memorial, located in front of the city’s courthouse, stands upon the former site of the jail where the Africans were held awaiting trial in 1839. A friend suggested I take our Bound4life Connecticut team there to siege and I thought the idea was brilliant. In the eyes of those passing by it was a strange sight. A line of young people with lips taped shut, standing in front of a gleaming black statue of the slave and later abolitionist, Cinque. As we prayed an older black women approached me with a serious expression on her face and a question in her heart. “What are you doing?” she asked me. With my usual zealous passion I declared that we were praying against an evil greater than slavery, the tragic injustice of abortion. Quite offended by my answer she uttered critical words and marched off. I wasn’t deterred by her reaction, but rather saddened by the lies that have kept her and others in the black community in great deception.