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About Maafa History

History of Maafa in the U.S.


Anthropologist Marimba Ani coined the term Maafa (mah-awf-uh) in a 1989 article and then later in her book “Let the Circle Be Unbroken: The Implications of African Spirituality in the Diaspora” after the Hebrew-derived model designation Shoah of the Jewish Holocaust.  Maafa is a Swahili word translated as “great disaster” or “great tragedy”.  In 1995, Rev. Dr. Johnny Ray Youngblood from St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn began the first Maafa Commemoration in the U.S. to “express the grief of the catastrophe that befell his ancestors and the horrific journey of millions of black people from freedom in Africa to bondage in the New World.”  Today, the Maafa is an invitation to honor black ancestors who have suffered through the Middle Passage and to engage in meaningful ways to change the state of the lives that continue to be compromised due to racism and oppression. 


More details may be found at 


For more information on the first U.S. Maafa Commemoration, see 

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