Starting in the 16th century, the trans-Atlantic triangle emerged from a matrix of economic and political relationships between Europe and Africa, Africa and the Americas, and the Americas and Europe, all of which came, by horrific measure, to depend on the legalized trafficking and enslavement of human beings. By neither idea nor practice did this triangular framework yield a pretty picture. Inhumanities and injustices prevailed for well over two centuries, casting dark shadows over all manner of human endeavors across the whole of these geopolitical territories and beyond. A transformative moment came with the American Civil War (1861-1865) and the ending of legalized enslavement in the Western world. After almost three hundred years of existence in this form, however, the remnants of these complex relationships remained, and the next century, the 20th century, gave rise to revolution, protest, socio-political activism, and never-ending quests for freedom, justice, empowerment, and sovereignty.
The Africa Atlanta 2014 Project recognizes that we (people of the Americas, Africa, and Europe) must face the facts of our checkered past with courage and fortitude as we simultaneously forge a useable future together, one by which, in the 21st century, we re-invent ourselves as global citizens, re-imagine our possibilities with both ordinary and extra-ordinary potential across all sectors of human endeavor, and re-cast our relationships with socially conscious, culturally respectful, and ethically informed principles always in mind. The compelling resource for accomplishing this ambitious task is the arts, our expressive traditions. They offer us an occasion for using different vantage points and different, more human centered, terms of engagement as we address lingering issues and newly emerging contemporary problems. Moreover, we have the privilege of doing this work in the context of Atlanta, Georgia, a city that has itself risen anew from its own ashes to become a vibrant international gateway for re-connecting the Americas in a far more positive and dynamic way to Africa, Europe and the rest of the world—this time—through education, science, technology, business, innovation, cultural exchange, and more.