Announcing the Chase-Riboud International Middle Passage Monument, a private protocol for the establishment and endowment of a large scale sculptural Memorial to the 11 million African deportees who lost their lives in the Middle Passage. A monument to be built in Washington D.C. conceived by and under the direction of the author- sculptor Barbara Chase-Riboud as designer, builder and promoter. The design, conception and execution would be the responsibility of the artist who would be working under a scheme worked out by  participating foundations and underwriters.

This project would be built and privately financed by tax free foundations concerned with international affairs, public affairs, culture and cultural affairs, art and communications. Civil rights organizations would be asked to sponsor this project as good faith mentors but without any financial or communicative input. The completed monument would then be presented to the United States Government as an endowed gift and National Historical Monument for the American people in perpetuity by selling duplicates of the chain links used in the monument to represent each victim.


Below is a rough outline of the future organization of this project and the steps to be taken to proceed with it’s realization.


1.       A Delaware based production company (organized like an independent movie production company) to be formed: The Chase-Riboud International Middle Passage Memorial  Project = CRIMP whose sole purpose is to produce and build the Monument and differentiate it from any other Middle Passage Memorial or competition.

2.      A for-profit association internet based to be formed with the same name to raise money, accept donations, publicize, take orders for links, seek land grants from the government, lobby congress, sell links via internet @ www.CRIMP.com

3.      Register the association as an official Washington lobby group in Washington D.C. with mailing address and 800 cell number

4.      Produce a structural engineering and architectural estimate of the actual cost of building the Monument and maintaining it. The total cost including land should not exceed 20 million dollars.

5.      Following steps to take in this study: refer to the Congressional Record to find the text copies of 3 Congressional bills passed concerning Memorials.

a.      The Holocaust Museum which receives 30 million dollars a year in support from the U.S. government.

b.     The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial which was built privately but stands on government land on the Mall.

c.      The Martin Luther King Monument which is located on the Pond of the Jefferson Memorial on public land.

d.     The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bill, Theodore Roosevelt Island which is built on public land facing Kennedy Center.

e.      The Parks Commission’s maps, surveys, photographs, plans and architectural drawings of Roosevelt Island.


6.      Contact a list of private backers as possible associates and members of the board.

7.       Post on our web site, the text in English of the recent French law (2000) declaring chattel slavery a crime against humanity. Post my manifesto and the sculptural and architectural plans for the monument. Post printed brochure and procedure for gifts to the Association, it’s by-laws and the registration of my world wide copyright. Links to all Black Studies Departments in the U.S and Europe. Publication of a quarterly newsletter.

8.      Establish an association with the most powerful American Universities which have vigorous Black Studies programs: Harvard, Emory University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, University of Virginia, The University of California at Berkeley, MIT, University of Boston, Northwestern University, The University of Mississippi

9.      Establish a budget, blue prints and building plans with a timetable which would include provisions for engineering, architectural environmental and community studies.

10.   The ultimate goal would be to raise enough money after building costs and design fees to endow the Memorial for 1 billion dollars in perpetuity selling links to the American Public at 100 dollars per link. This fund could also be used to install a book store, study center, library, museum, and pay the salaries of the direction and security with the maintenance being taken over eventually by the Parks Commission as is the case with the Theodore Roosevelt Monument on Theodore Roosevelt Island.

11.    Project more than one Memorial by franchising 8 smaller copies in the first 8 cities that agree to build the sculpture, at least one in Africa.

12.   Internationalize this project by appealing to the international community in communications and the possibility of franchising duplicate monuments outside the United states in other countries of the Diaspora with the mother monument being the United States of America.

13.   Establish by Presidential Proclamation a law proclaiming chattel slavery as a crime against humanity and declaring an official apology from the people of the United States to the American citizens who are descendants of the deportees who survived the Middle Passage.

This is an ongoing project begun in scale model form in 1994 with a letter to the President of the United States, Bill Clinton which is reproduced here. The author, invites your comments and e-mail concerning this Monument as well as the propagation through the internet and the world wide web of this proposal and the support and expressions of support of the American public and public and private organizations who wish to see this memorial come to realization. This project in no way interferes or has intercurrence with any  other memorial to the victims of the Middle Passage either here or abroad.

My many thanks to my supporters both here and abroad.

Please write to me at CRIMP at bcr@chase-riboud.org

April 1994


The Middle Passage Monument is conceived in memory of the 11 million African victims on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean who perished there though torture , disease , bestial confinement , inhumane treatment , and suicide , which occurred as a result of their enforced deportation into slavery . Their memories must be rehabiliatated and honored in much the same way as the victims of the European Holocaust have been . It is absolutely necessary to integrate this experience into the warp and weave of American history for us to come to terms finally with this past crime against humanity . This is done not in the spirit of revindication , nor as a demand for reparation , but as an ultimate gesture of reconciliation and faith in America's common past .

The design of this sculpture is the result of more than ten years of reflection . It consists of two bronze-cast obelisk-shaped styles between which is suspended a wheel of bronze chain consisting of 11,000,000 links , each link representing one Middle Passage victim .The pillars and the suspended chain form an "H" shape , representing the ancient African city of Harrar . On the sculpted surface of the obelisks would be engraved the names of every nation , kingdom , clan , village , city , and river source from which the martyrs were taken .

Eventually , each link , which represents a nameless victim , will be claimed and sponsored by a living American--an individual , a wife , a husband , a church , a city---- so that the unknown victim becomes , in a sense , a real entity with a past , a family , through his sponsor or contemporary namesake , who himself becomes a witness to that victim's martyrdom . The 11 million "sponsors" will create a permanent endowment and will form an international community in itself , equivalent to almost a third of the black population of the United States , and will bear witness to its collective past .

The Middle Passage Monument would be the first and , at present , only existing memorial in the world commemorating this part of world history . It could become a symbolic meeting place and means for all Americans to mourn this tremendous miscarriage of justice and inhumanity in a symbolic meeting place . A vast space of ignorance , anger , misunderstanding , and historical amnesia could be filled . In this way we , as a nation , can relegate a human catastrophe to the past and move forward .

The key concept here is "collective memory"---- the event , or series of events which the memorial embodies , changed the history of the United States and of the entire New World from 1492 onward . Without a doubt , the Middle Passage was the greatest migration , forced or otherwise , in human history . This migration is a world-class manifestation that rivals and parallels the discovery of America itself . It is this cosmic and perfectly assimilative aspect of the Middle Passage which woukd be expressed in this memorial . The inscription would read :

The Middle Passage Memorial

honors the 11,000,000 victims

and 30,000,000 deportees of

The African Disapora