The bells of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church tolled for four minutes as a crowd gathered to stand in silence and reflect on that day 400 years ago when African slaves first arrived in England’s American colonies.
Late August sunlight and a strong breeze hinted at fall’s fast approach as the bells rang out, competing with the sounds of the city that would not be silent even on a Sunday afternoon.
Bells rang not just at St. Anne’s, but at other churches throughout the country as part of the National Park Service’s planned commemorative observances, which began at 3 p.m. local time. This national bell ringing was among the events on a Day of Healing marking an event that foreshadowed centuries of struggle for African Americans.
Ryan Boucher, a park service employee who also grew up at St. Anne’s, tolled the bells. St. Anne’s often partners with the park service, such as at the July 3rd reading of Frederick Douglass’s oration “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” This time the partnership came with encouragement from Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.