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Hampton Roads Community News

African Landing Commemoration Day Planned At Ft. Monroe, August 21

By Jasmine Deloatch
Assistant Editor
New Journal and Guide

African Landing Commemoration Day, taking place on August 21, 2021 highlights the truth behind slavery and the contributions of the slaves to America. The event will take place at Fort Monroe, Virginia beginning at 11 a.m. and counting through 4 p.m.

The day’s events will include libations, drum call, African dancers and drummers. Guests are encouraged to bring drums to participate in the “Circle of Drums.”

According to Calvin Pearson, the objective of the event is to highlight the untold story of the First Africans that landed and the fact that they were not indeed slaves when they first arrived. Pearson is the Founder and President of Project 1619 Incorporated which introduced African Landing Commemoration Day in 2008.

“African landing commemoration day is similar to Juneteenth. The landing of enslaved Africans in 1619 is the day that forever changed the fabric of society. It ushered in a system of divide based solely on skin color,” said Pearson. “We didn’t have an event last year because of COVID, but we will be back this year. The driving initiative was that our story of the first enslaved Africans was not being told correctly.”

The story of slavery and the journey that the ancestors of today’s African Americans underwent has been told by Project 1619 since 1994.

The Project 1619 has determined that on August 25, 1619, the first English ship carrying captured  Africans landed at Fort Comfort (now Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia). This event led to 246 years of legal enslavement of Africans in America before the Civil War was fought to end the institution of slavery.  This was followed by 100 years of Jim Crow, legal segregation, denial of Civil Rights, unfair housing, lack of equal education, unfair employment practices, police profiling and unfair incarceration policies, according to the Project’s website at project1619.org.

Pearson and Project 1619 have worked to educate people on the First Landing and the arrival of the first Africans who had been captured from Angola.

Initially, the Africans brought to what became America were treated as indentured servants. Slavery did not become legal until 1661. However, with no contract, their freedom was ultimately up to the plantation owner.

The early  Africans would typically work 15-30 years before they were granted freedom. After the freedom was granted, they could begin their own homes and lives and could marry whites and Native Americans if they so chose. They could also purchase the freedom of their family and they could own land.

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“We celebrate African landing day because there is still room for reconciliation after so many years. Allows us to honor the contributions of our ancestors to make America. They were made to, for the sake of America, endure torture, lynchings and inhumane treatment. The purpose of my organization is to tell the truth about the 1619 landing,” said Pearson.

One of the future goals of the organization is to construct a National memorial to honor those enslaved Africans.

  For more information, please visit https://www.project1619.org

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