Ghana has declared a “Year of Return” for African descendants around the world to mark 400 years since the first Africans were enslaved in what would become the US. In a huge tourism push, the country has brought in celebrities from Idris Elba and Naomi Campbell to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 12 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Its sort of like — I wouldn’t call it mitigation, but it’s just an acknowledgement: ‘Yes, this did happen, and you’re not crazy for thinking that this awful thing happened. It did happen.’”

Mona Boyd

“I just couldn’t believe [Nancy Pelosi] was coming because I think it’s important,” said Mona Boyd, one of the event organizers in Ghana. “It’s sort of like — I wouldn’t call it mitigation, but it’s just an acknowledgement: ‘Yes, this did happen, and you’re not crazy for thinking that this awful thing happened. It did happen.’”

Related: A professor with Ghanaian roots unearths a slave castle’s history — and her own

The slave trade changed the lives of millions of Africans and their descendants. But Boyd’s whole life, she felt like people had denied that it took place because they never talked about it. The focus had always been on moving on.

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