LETTER TO THE EDITOR — Port Arthur has important history with Middle Passage slave trade

Published 12:16 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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Several years ago, Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP) Board member Joan Hubert of Houston initiated a conversation with residents of Port Arthur.

MPCPMP researches, assists and provides resources to documented arrival locations associated with the trans-Atlantic human trade. This research determined that Sabine River and Sabine Lake regions are areas where captive African children, women and men first disembarked after the tortuous ocean voyage across the Atlantic known as the Middle Passage.

This history was virtually unknown and certainly not publicly acknowledged. When Ms. Hubert approached the African American Cultural Society in Port Arthur with information, they indicated they were interested in obtaining more facts, installing a marker and conducting an ancestral remembrance ceremony.

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They wanted to commemorate the lives of those who perished during the trans-Atlantic crossing and those who survived. There were hurdles in the stages of planning that ranged from uncovering the details of the history to financing the effort.

We are delighted and honored that the effort has culminated in the design and text of a marker and an extensive ancestral remembrance program. The only marker in Texas that addresses the arrival of captive Africans to Texas was installed in Galveston in 2017.

Port Arthur will be the second Texas location and has the distinction of focusing attention on an entire region that includes Sabine Pass, Sabine Lake and Sabine River.

We are certain this event in Port Arthur will ignite interest and research in various places in the state that share this history of the presence and contributions of enslaved Africans and their descendants with a legacy continuing to the present day.

We appreciate your support as Port Arthur joins over 80 documented U.S. Middle Passage arrival locations from Maine to the Lone Star state.

If you have any questions, call me at 409-960-2555.

— Ann Cobb, executive director of the African American Cultural Society