Pelosi says ‘humbled’ by Ghana visit to gateway to slavery

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks with Speaker of the Parliament Aaron Mike Oquaye at Ghana’s Parliament in Accra, Ghana, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Pelosi and other members of the U.S. Congress plan discussions on “regional security, sustainable and inclusive development and the challenges of tomorrow including the climate crisis.” (AP Photo/Christian Thompson)

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday a congressional delegation to Ghana was “humbled” by a visit to the seaside gateway where many Africans were shipped to America as slaves.

Pelosi’s address to Ghanaian lawmakers contrasted with President Donald Trump’s appearance on Tuesday at a Virginia event boycotted by black lawmakers angry over his recent comments.

Pelosi’s delegation visited Ghana’s Cape Coast and Elmina Castles to observe the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans shipped to America.

The delegation included Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of four activist Democratic congresswomen of color whom Trump has urged to get out of the U.S. “right now.”

Trump quickly faced bipartisan condemnation for the remarks and accusations of race-baiting, but he has insisted he was not being racist.

The visit by Pelosi’s delegation marks Ghana’s Year of the Return, which reaches out to the millions of Africans in the diaspora. “It is important that this symbolic year, 400 years later, we commemorate their existence and their sacrifices,” Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said.

Pelosi called the Year of the Return a “beautiful gesture” that also recognizes a “terrible atrocity” in slavery.

She said she and others had been transformed by this week’s visit.

“At Elmina Castle we saw the dungeons where thousands were grotesquely tortured,” she said. “At Cape Coast Castle we stood before The Door of No Return, where countless millions caught their last glimpse of Africa before they were shipped to a life of enslavement.”

Pelosi also paid tribute to the West African nation’s groundbreaking independence in 1957. Ghana was the first British colony to gain independence, an event that inspired people across the continent to push for the same.

The House speaker also said Ghana had played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement in the United States and became a “symbol of great hope in the fight against racial discrimination and segregation.”

At a news conference later Wednesday, Pelosi was not asked about Trump or his recent comments after reporters were told to limit questions to the Ghana visit.

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