Coney Island promises flowery, seaside Tribute To The Ancestors

Performer and Vena Baker at Tribute to the Ancestors 2022.
Performer and Vena Baker at Tribute to the Ancestors 2022.
Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

Remember the endurance of Tina Turner, honor Harry Belafonte’s legacy, salute the contributions of Jim Brown, reprise the Redemption songs Robert Nesta Marley recorded and above all praise the departed relatives whose positive influence impacted favorably.

That’s the mission of the People of the Sun Middle Passage Collective at Medgar Evers College, Student Life, the Student Government and the Crown Heights Youth Collective whose coalition annually memorializes the ancestors.

For the 34th year they are planning for June 10 when people of African descent gather at the African Circle on the Coney Island boardwalk to pay tribute to the ancestors of the Middle Passage.

At the 16th Street location, the Africa-centered grouping plan music, dance, drumming, spoken word poetry recitals, the pouring of libations and other honorarium to recently and past descendants of ancestors lost at sea during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Rituals will commence at noon, followed by a roll call of familiar and celebrated names many of whom died earlier this year. However, individuals will also have an opportunity to honor beloved family members and associates by saying their names aloud.

Marcha Tracey at Tribute to the Ancestors.
Marcha Tracey at Tribute to the Ancestors. Photo by Vinette K. Pryce

The ceremonial ritual is only the first of a plethora of activities reliably anticipated annually on the second Saturday of June when devotees wear white in memory of lost souls.

Another involves joyful celebrations from troupes and individuals.

Last year, reggae singer Sister Carol delivered a stirring performance she probably will repeat in 2023. Throughout the years, the popular dancehall artist has been a reliable supporter of the traditional ceremony by inviting her children. In recent years the acclaimed Black Cinderella has introduced a second generation of off-springs to partake in the rituals.

At sunset another alluring tradition will find participants following behind drummers and other musicians headed to the beach where flowers, fruits and vegetables will be placed to end the day.

In previous outings, devotees have entered the ocean dancing in revival of the spiritual connection shared. At times entranced by dancing and rituals, many have lingered long after dusk in ceremony.

WBAI-FM radio producer Habte Selassie said the date is always reserved for the occasion. A former emcee at the event, Selassie gave assurances of his attendance.

“I will definitely be there, it’s a priority.”

In light of a slew of recent celebrity deaths, a Pennsylvania funeral he attended for his longtime neighbor Dougie Mack, the loss of a beloved surrogate matriarch in Jamaica and the tradition unique to Brooklyn, Selassie said his presence is guaranteed.

Tributes to all ancestors are invited however, the life contributions of actors Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and attorney Alton Maddox will be especially regaled.

For more info. Call Akeem at 718-659-4999