Photographs from various yearly productions of "The MAAFA Suite" produced by the St. Paul Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York. Sr. Pastor David K. Brawley, MAAFA founder Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood.
In 1995, St. Paul Community Baptist Church (SPCBC) of East New York, Brooklyn, led by the vision of its Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood, initiated its first Commemoration of The MAAFA. Prior to the Commemoration, Rev. Youngblood began a dialogue with his staff and church leadership about the need for African –Americans to grapple with the ravages and vestiges of slavery. The catalyst for this dialogue was the age-old question, "What’s wrong with Black people?" Dr. Youngblood’s prophetic response was, "We have yet to mourn the loss of our ancestors."
Dr. Youngblood’s conversations were followed by years of presentations and lectures brought to the church and community by a cadre of renowned scholars such as Dr. Marimba Ani, Erriel Roberson, Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Dr. Na’im Akbar, Attorney Alton Maddox, Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, Dr. Edwin Nichols, Dr. Joy DeGruy-Leary, Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Randall Robinson, Jane Elliot, Noel Ignatiev, The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and a host of others.
For years, issues and discussions about slavery and racism were, and still remain, taboo in the African-American community, in particular, and the American psyche in general. Our forbearers had so divorced themselves from the pain of remembering, that selective amnesia became second nature. Dr. Youngblood saw this absence of conscious memory as a major missing link our individual and collective healing. Thus, resultant of a dire need to address the residual effects of Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorder, The MAAFA Suite… A Healing Journey™ evolved.
The MAAFA Suite…A Healing Journey™, the centerpiece of the church’s annual commemorative program, is appropriately described as transformative theatre or sacred psychodrama and is historical theatre at its best. It brings to the forefront of the American public, a story that places the history of this nation in its truest perspective and offers an opportunity for all people to understand the nature of the oppression inflicted upon generations of Africans in America.
The term MAAFA (pronounced Mah- AH-fah) is a Kiswahili word which gives definition to the catastrophic event experienced by millions of African people during the middle passage journey from Africa bound for enslavement in the Americas. The word MAAFA is the concept of Dr. Marimba Ani, African-American scholar and author, and has been adopted in contemporary scholarship. The previous text has been taken from St. Paul's MAAFA website to maintain accuracy.