Savannah community and visitors hold service to remember largest slave auction
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -The Savannah community and visitors from across the nation came together on Saturday to attend a service remembering the largest slave auction in U.S. history.
Members of the Georgia Historical Society and O.C.E.A.N.S the Organization to Commemorate Enslaved African Americans held a service to remember the Butler Slave Auction.
As the story goes, the sun did not shine in Savannah on March 2nd, 1859. 160 years later, hundreds came together to remember the day God must have been weeping.
“We ought to say it was ugly and we ought to say never again,” said Mayor Otis Johnson.
The Butler Slave Auction was the largest slave auction in the U.S., with 436 slaves sold at the former Ten Broeck horse race course in West Savannah.
The two-day sale is also remembered for its torrential downpour.
“The rain did not stop until the last person stepped off the auction block,” said Dr. Kwesi Degraft-Hanson with O.C.E.A.N.S, inc.
On Saturday, community leaders and residents looked on to 436 chairs set out and protected for the 436 slaves sold at the Butler auction.
In a moment of remembrance, umbrellas opened into pure sunshine.
Carmen Butler just recently found out she has even deeper ties to this commemoration.
“He came to Philadelphia and he sat down with me and my father," said Butler. "He was able to trace our ancestry back to the Butler Slave Auction.”
Carmen flew in from Philadelphia just to see these 436 chairs. One of which represents her family. Her lineage.
“It’s been quite a journey," Butler said. "But it goes deeper than my soul.”
Historians have few names and ages of those sold over 160 years ago, with the youngest sold recorded at just one-year-old.
The entire 436 were honored in song and prayer.
“Because there is recognition that this is an important part of our past and a story that needs to be told,” explained Christy Crisp with the Georgia Historical Society.
The weeping time was a two-day slave auction.
So if you missed Saturday’s service, there will be another one on Sunday starting at 11 a.m. at the Solomon Temple Church Of God In Christ.
Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.