JAMESTOWN, Va., May 10, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Last weekend 18 world-renowned scholars of race and slavery, intercultural relations, political thought, and political economy gathered at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, for a working conference titled Virginia in 1619: Legacies for Race, Commonwealth and Empire. The international group of scholars examined the enduring imprint of two landmark 1619 events on today's America. These 1619 events included the arrival of the first Africans at Point Comfort, Virginia, (modern day Hampton) and the convening of the first elected lawmaking body in the Americas.
"1619 was a transformative moment in regard to representative government, the establishment of the rule of law, and the dark obverse of the beginnings of corrosive racism aimed initially at Africans and subsequently Indian peoples and other non-Europeans," says James Horn, President and CEO of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. "Understanding our history is the first step to better understanding ourselves as a people."
The conference also examined the convergence of English, African and Virginia Indian cultures in 1619 Virginia and decisions the colony made regarding the rights of indentured servants, private property, and the law. These choices ultimately shaped culture in 1619 Virginia and today's America. Scholars shared research and shaped a new understanding of the connections between these watershed 1619 moments and their trajectories of evolution over the next 400 years of history.
"In August 1619, 20 Angolans arrived in Virginia, forever changing the course of American history and creating a profound and enduring impact on the Virginia Colony," said Linda Heywood, professor of African History and the History of the African Diaspora and African American Studies at Boston University. "This is the moment in history when African culture became an integral part of American culture. It is unfortunate that history books don't teach us much about the remarkable backstory of the first Africans who arrived in Virginia. It is imperative that we study, understand and honor the enduring influence that these individuals, and other Africans who followed them during the next three decades, have on the landscape of modern day America."
"Virginia's 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™, is delighted that top 1619 scholars, including our partners, James Horn and Linda Heywood are actively shaping a new narrative for 1619 Virginia and its imprint on 400 years of American history," said Kathy Spangler, Executive Director of the 2019 Commemoration. "It is important that we create a deeper and richer understanding of Virginia's formative history. Scholarship that emerged from this conference will inform Virginia's 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™, which highlights key 1619 events that set Virginia and America on a course towards the ideals of democracy, diversity and opportunity."
Learn more about seminal events that occurred in 1619 Virginia and continue to influence America today through Virginia's 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™. The multi-year initiative includes events, programs, education and legacy projects that highlight pivotal events of 1619 Virginia, which have had an enduring impact on Virginia and America's history. AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ also explores the 400 years of intervening history and issues that faced the 1619 English colonists, Africans and Virginia Indians, which are still relevant today. Visit www.AmericanEvolution2019.com for more information.
About the 2019 Commemoration
The 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™, highlights events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today. Featured programs, events and legacy projects will position Virginia as a leader in education, tourism and economic development. AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ commemorates the ongoing journey toward the key ideals of democracy, diversity and opportunity. Dominion Resources is an AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ Founding Partner and Altria Group is a Virginia Colony Partner. The 2019 Commemoration is a sub-agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
Sarah Mars Bowie
PH: (202) 974-5081
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SOURCE 2019 Commemoration