Local February 22, 2024 | 8:39 am

Black History Month: U.S. Embassy and PUCMM host Marquis de Galliffet shipwreck forum

Santo Domingo.- In celebration of Black History Month, the U.S. Embassy collaborated with the Center for Caribbean Studies of the Pontifical Catholic University Mother and Teacher (PUCMM), the Ministry of Culture, and Indiana University to organize an academic forum discussing the shipwreck of the French slave ship Marquis de Galliffet.

The forum focused on the historical significance of discovering the submerged slave galleon off the country’s coasts and the cultural artifacts that depict the conditions of enslaved people during transportation. This marks the commencement of activities to honor those who perished aboard this ship in the late 18th century.

Panelists included Antonino Vidal, Director of the Center for Caribbean Studies; Prof. Charles Beeker of Indiana University; Carlos Andújar, General Director of Museums; and Gamal Michelen, deputy minister of heritage at the Ministry of Culture.

As part of the project “Stories that Unite Us: Remembering the Submerged Past,” a traveling exhibition and educational program on the transatlantic slave trade in the Caribbean will be organized, featuring the Marquis de Galliffet’s discovery in various cultural centers. The project will conclude with a commemorative initiative honoring the shipwreck and its victims.

Collaborating institutions for upcoming activities include the cultural heritage center of the Department of State, National Museum of African Heritage and Culture, Smithsonian Institute, African American Divers Association, Indiana University Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (IUMAA), León Jiménez Center, and the Río San Juan City Hall.

The Marquis de Galliffet set sail in 1772 from Nantes, France, trafficking slaves from “Côte d’Angole” to Hispaniola. Many slaves died on the journey, reflecting the broader impact of the transatlantic slave trade, with 12,000 ships making 40,000 voyages and transporting 12.5 million enslaved people, of whom approximately 1.5 million perished during the voyage.

The shipwreck site is currently under the custody of the General Directorate of Museums, proposed to become a Living Museum at the Sea Memorial by February 2025, honoring those who suffered the horrors of slavery and those who lost their lives before reaching the New World. Archival research conducted in 2024 by researchers at the Indiana University Underwater Science Center forms the basis of this summary.

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