Goree Island, the small Senegalese island most known for the role it played in the Atlantic Ocean slave trade, was visited by President Barack Obama on Thursday.
Accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, the president reflected on the dark period of American and African history the island represents as he kicked-off a weeklong trip to re-engage the continent and encourage democracy in the region, the Associated Press reported
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Calling it a "very powerful moment," Obama, whose father was from Kenya, said by touring with his daughters and wife, it helped him fully appreciate the magnitude of the slave trade.
Michelle Obama herself descended from slaves, with her great-great-great-grandparents being a slave girl from South Carolina and an unknown white man from Georgia, the Huffington Post reports.
The infamous island, which is approximately 1,000 yards long and less than 400 yards wide, processed many of the millions of African slaves destined for North American shores.
The president reportedly visited the island's numerous camps where men, women, and children were kept in chains in small cells before being shipped to America.
During his visit, the president told reporters that as an African-American president, the trip further motivated him to stand up for human rights all over the world, CNN reports
Obama added the island is a reminder of what happens when those rights aren't protected, notes the Huffington Post.
During a question and answer session with reporters in Senegal's capital of Dakar, the president also weighed in on domestic issues, particularly the Supreme Court's recent decisions on same sex marriage.
"The Supreme Court did not make a blanket ruling that applies nationally, but rather lifted up the ability of states to recognize and respect same-sex marriage, and that the federal government couldn't negate the decision by those states," Obama said.
The president also remarked on how homosexuals are treated in Africa.
"The issue of gays and lesbians and how they're treated has come up and is controversial in many parts of Africa," Obama said, noting that "when it comes to people's personal views and religion, faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the religious views that are there," CNN reports.
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