St. Croixs Wayne James, whose efforts to memorialize the millions of Africans who perished along the Middle Passage, was named one of the 100 most influential people from the Caribbean over the last century by Voice of America Radio.
James is president of the Homeward Bound Foundation, an organization spearheading the Middle Passage Monument Project. The project honors the millions of African people killed during the transatlantic slave trade.
The first aspect of the project saw a monument lowered onto the floor of the Atlantic Ocean 427 kilometers from New York Harbor on July 3.
The sculpture faces Africa and between 2000 and 2005 will be accompanied by replicas to be placed on land in the six regions of the world where the slave trade occurred, namely Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, North America and South America.
James is currently in Europe in search of a site for the European-region Middle Passage Monument. Portugal, Spain, England, France, Holland and Denmark are being considered, said Brian Johnson, public relations director for the Middle Passage Project.
"By placing the monument into the Atlantic Ocean this past July in recognition of the estimated millions of African people who perished as a result of the transatlantic slave trade, James did something that could have and should have been done by any one of the millions of people, black, white and others, whose lives have been affected by slavery," said Derrice Deane, a VOA reporter. "That the paying of the tribute occurred to James is astonishing. That he accomplished his monumental task almost singlehandedly is even more astonishing."
Along with the VOA honor, which recognized Caribbean icons such as Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley, James won the International Humanitarian Medal earlier this year. He also was a recipient of the Beacon of Freedom Award in 1998.
"It is wonderful to be honored by the international community," James said. "It is touching to know that my work is impacting the lives of many people from many walks of life."
For more information on the Middle Passage Project,click here.