Film follows Camano Island family’s effort to atone

“So sorry.”

Members of the Lienau family of Camano Island have walked hundreds of miles, over the course of four years and on four continents, to say those words.

Sometimes, there is more explanation:

“I want to apologize on behalf of the United States for the enslavement of African children,” Jacob Lienau said in 2006, when he was just 14 years old, in a stadium in Gambia.

“We’re apologizing for the legacy of the slave trade, particularly where Christians were involved,” Shari Lienau, mother of nine children, said at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march in Everett that same year.

“I wanted to say I was sorry,” Anna Lienau said two years ago, when she was 12 years old and saving money to travel to Africa to apologize.

But most often, there are just the two simple words, and sometimes they’re not even spoken. When Michael and Shari Lienau and their children march, they wear black T-shirts with “So Sorry” emblazoned in white block letters.

It was in 2004 that filmmaker Michael Lienau and his family first joined Lifeline Expedition, an England-based organization dedicated, for the past seven years, to traveling the world and apologizing for the part of white Europeans and Americans in the African slave trade. The expedition has attracted a loyal group concerned with the long-term effects of slavery on relations among whites and blacks. In historic slave ports in the United States, South America, Caribbean islands, Great Britain and Africa, members of the group, including several Lienau children, allow themselves to be chained and yoked together in a jarring acknowledgment of the practice of human trade.

Michael Lienau documented many of the Lifeline Expedition’s trips and recently completed production on “Yokes and Chains: A Journey to Forgiveness and Freedom.”

The documentary will be shown Wednesday at Everett Community College as part of Black History Month.

Reporter Krista J. Kapralos: 425-339-3422 or

See the documentary

“Yokes and Chains: A Journey to Forgiveness and Freedom,” a documentary by Camano Island filmmaker Michael Lienau, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Parks Building at Everett Community College, at 2000 Tower St., Everett.

To see a trailer for the documentary, go to To read a 2006 Herald article on the Lienau family and the Lifeline Expedition and see photographs, go to

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