The national landmark of the first recorded arrival of Africans to the New World in 1619 (Sarafina Wright/The Washington Informer)
The national landmark of the first recorded arrival of Africans to the New World in 1619 (Sarafina Wright/The Washington Informer)

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In August 1619, a privateering vessel flying the flag of the Dutch Republic arrived at Point Comfort, Va., which is present-day Hampton, carrying “20 and odd” Africans according to John Rofle, one of the early English settlers.

While the ship had no “cargo” it did have people on board whom were traded to Governor George Yeardley and Cape Merchant Abraham Peirsey in exchange for provisions.

These individuals, originally captured by Portuguese slavers in West Central Africa (though some historians say Angola), were the the first recorded Africans to arrive in English North America.

In preparation of the 400th anniversary in 2019, of the arrival of these men, women and children the state of Virginia will commemorate the moment in history with a slew of featured events, programs and legacy projects.

American Evolution, the group at the forefront of connecting the past with the present, plans to explore not only African American history, but the first representative legislative assembly in the New World and the first official English Thanksgiving in North America in 2019.

Commemorative Events 2017:

2017 Virginia Thanksgiving Festival
Nov. 5, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Berkeley Plantation
12602 Harrison Landing Rd., Charles City, Va., 23030

Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival
Nov. 17, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Byrd Theatre
2908 West Cary Street, Richmond, Va., 23221

Commemorative Events 2019:

Remembering Jamestown II Conference: The Missiology of Jamestown 1619
January 2019
Virginia Union University
Richmond, Va.
“The Missiology of Jamestown 1619 and Its Implications” will explore long-standing assumptions related to Christian mission.

400 Years of African American Impact
February 2019
Northern Virginia/D.C.
The commemoration will partner with leading national African American organizations, media outlets, and the public to identify the most impactful African Americans of the past and present.

First Africans in Virginia: Impact and Legacy Exhibition
February – August 2019
Virginia Historical Society
Richmond, Va.
This exhibition will encourage viewers to connect their own historical and contemporary relationships with race and the legacy of American slavery.

Cultural Arts World Premiere
May – June 2019
The Virginia Arts Festival will create a cultural arts performance that deepens our understanding of the original three cultures of Virginia and the ongoing impact of diversity in America today. This festival will take place throughout Virginia.

Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center Dedication Ceremony
Aug. 24, 2019
Fort Monroe, Hampton, Va.
The Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center will tell the stories of Captain John Smith, the arrival of the first enslaved Africans and the culmination of 242
years of slavery as the first contrabands came to Fort Monroe and received their emancipation.

1619: Making of America Summit
September 27-28, 2019
Norfolk State University
Norfolk, Va.
This cultural event will begin with the exploration of the contributions and influences of the three founding cultures: African, Native American and English. This expanding cultural tapestry of our nation will be explored by celebrated scholars, artists, film makers, musicians and students through out the nation.

Customs, Cultures and Cuisine Festival
Nov. 8 – 10, 2019
Williamsburg, Va.
The event will honor the early beginnings of America with the three cultures present in 1619 Virginia.

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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