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This segment translates the experience of the initial aspects of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade through an interpretation of the corridors, dungeons and ultimately the “Doorway of No Return” of the slave castles located along the western coast of Africa.


The polished black granite walls of the ‘Corridor of No Return’ create a sensation of compression, tension and apprehension.


The “Doorway of No Return” is the sandstone portal which personifies fear of unknown transition. The infinity fountain is a depiction of the Atlantic Ocean as seen through the actual doorways the unfortunates were forced to pass through.

The stairways leading down to the emergence sculpture and multi-use platform allude to the sense of descending into the bowels of the slave ships.

A pyramidal, concave black granite sculpture rising boldly from the western edge of the multi-use platform symbolizes emergence of African Americans as leaders in all disciplines making valuable contributions to American and World heritage despite myriad challenges.. 

The journey continues from the elevated platform along an elongated ramp bringing to mind marches for civil rights and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s quote which paraphrased the words of abolitionist Rev. Theodore Parker:  “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice” as the ramp meets street level. Seating at the end of the ramp surrounding a celebratory fountain is a place for reflection. 


THE WATER FEATURE of the monument represents the Atlantic Ocean at the beginning of the journey and North American waterways to freedom such as the Ohio River and the Great Lakes as the journey continues.  Falling water at the Emergence Sculpture and celebratory fountain at the end of the sloped walkway augment the notion of African American industry, determination and strength.  Water continuity between the extremes of the monument is symbolic of the AAACG motto based on the adage symbolized by the Sankofa bird, an Akan adinkra symbol, “We learn from the past as we live in the present to secure our future”.



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