Commemorating The Weeping Time

Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 5:56 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2023 at 9:46 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In 1859 one of the largest slave auctions in United States history took place here in Savannah.

Hundreds of enslaved people were auctioned off by a Darien slaveholder over a two day period.

164 years later people from all over gathered to commemorate that dark day in history.

The slave sale is remembered as ‘The Weeping Time’ out of respect for the families that were torn apart over the two-day auction.

Those were the folks that both city officials and community leaders gathered to honor.

Saturday morning people of all backgrounds gathered at the Weeping Time historical marker in West Savannah.

To start things off a prayer was offered.

“We want to make sure that our people, all people know, about this that took place here in Savannah. We ask you to bless all that has been done to honor these people,” Dr. Brenda Roberts said.

The prayer, commemorating the 429 enslaved men, women, and children, who were sold over the two-day period.

An undercover journalist from the North, Mortimer Thomson, wrote a report from the auction that shows rain fell the whole time- and stopped as soon as the last enslaved person stepped off the auction block.

“Those who were being sold themselves said, ‘Wait a minute. God must have been weeping,” Dr. Kewsi Degraft-Hanson said.

Thomson’s article exposed the horrors of the auction which community members remembered today with a wreath laying.

Just as important as remembering, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told the crowd, is how we move forward.

“People are hearing about this story around the world. We’re finding ways to develop this story in a meaningful way for our young people and those coming behind us to understand what occurred, but more importantly, to ensure it never happens again,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.

Johnson also stated that the City of Savannah is working to obtain a piece of the grandstand that that auction took place on- and when they do, they hope to keep the grandstand, and the land it originally stood on, sacred.