Proclaiming Release to the Captives

Paul Bryant-Smith (left) presents UCC flag aboard Amistad in Matanzas, Cuba/Contributed A first-person narrative by Rev. Paul Bryant-Smith is pastor of the First Congregational Church UCC in Norwalk.

HAVANAH — The Freedom Schooner Amistad visited Cuba from March 22-31 and I had the privilege of representing the United Church of Christ as the vessel journeyed to the place where the Amistad story began in 1839.

The port call in Havana also marked the tenth anniversary of Amistads launch in Mystic, as well as the 202nd anniversary of Great Britain’s Wilberforce Declaration outlawing the international slave trade in 1808. On the calendar of the United Nations, March 25 is Slavery Remembrance Day.

Looking back over my trip, I’m struck not so much by the words of the politicians and dignitaries that I met, but by my interactions with the Cubans I met on the street. Universally, upon finding out that I was an American, they would launch into a story about one of their family members who lives in the US, expressing a desire to at least visit some day.

Read full story here.


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