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Calvin Pearson, Project 1619 Inc. Founder Presented with International Award
On April 27th in Atlanta, GA, Calvin Pearson pictured above on left with a King from Africa was awarded the Flame Bearer Preservation and Heritage award by the African Tourism Diaspora for his work in promoting the arrival of the first Africans in English North America in 1619 at Point Comfort, today's Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA. Mr. Pearson's work has helped to dispel the myth that the first Africans arrived at Jamestown. His work has enabled scholars around the world to understand the capture and arrival of the first enslaved Africans brought to America.
This year our great Nation of the United States of America celebrates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln has been given the credit of freeing the slaves. But the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves in counties in Southern states controlled by the Confederates. It did not free slaves in Union held territories in Virginia, Maryland and other states. Many would remain enslaved until the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865. There were many slaves and slave owners in Union territories who did not fully understand the true meaning of the proclamation so they thought their slaves had been granted freedom. And many slaves rejoiced that they were free, even though they were not.
The Emancipation Proclamation was the end to a means. Lincoln saw it as a way to end the war by allowing free slaves to join the Union army. Free slaves joined the war because they thought if the union won their freedom could not be taken from them.
But the quest for freedom started many years earlier. It was abolitionist like Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and John Brown who began the road to emancipation. In May of 1861 three slaves escaped from the Confederate encampments in Norfolk, Virginia and in the dark of night rowed across the Chesapeake Bay to Fort Monroe, located in present day Hampton, Virginia. A day earlier General Benjamin Butler arrived at Fort Monroe to be commander of the Union Army. Those three slaves, Frank Baker, James Townsend and Sheppard Mallory decided they would emancipate themselves from 242 years of slavery that would be the greatest inhumane crime America had committed on one ethnic group. General Butler declared the three slaves “Contraband of War” and within months more than 10,000 slaves had escaped from Maryland and Virginia to what was now being called Freedoms Fortress. Many joined the Union Army.
Emancipation was inevitable due to the abolitionist who had worked to change the culture in America that slavery in the South was an injustice. Frederick Douglas was a confidant to President Lincoln and many believed he was instrumental in helping the president, who owned slaves himself, that it was time to free the slaves. In 1862 Congress freed the slaves living in the District of Columbia. President Lincoln saw that if Congress was abolishing slavery it was just a matter of time before freedom would spread thought the South.
So as we celebrate emancipation, let’s not forget that it was not the stroke of a pen that set our ancestors free, it was the struggle and perseverance of our brothers and sisters who fought the fight for freedom and equality that made emancipation possible.
Liberty is meaningless
where the right to utter
one's thoughts and opinions
has ceased to exist.
1860 Boston Speech
Support our campaign to raise money for a National Monument at Fort Monroe, VA in honor of the first Africans.
The City of Hampton, Virginia was founded on July 9, 1610 and is the oldest continuous English speaking settlement in America. In 1619 the first documented Africans to arrive on British occupied territory in what would become America landed at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, today’s Fort Monroe.
In 2019 the City of Hampton and our Nation will be commemorating the 400th anniversary of their arrival. The Project 1619 Committee, is a national nonprofit organization with a corporate office in Hampton, where the monument campaign will be spearheaded by descendents of the first Africans and the Contraband Slaves.
This grassroots movement is to raise funds for the commission and installation of a National Monument in Hampton. Currently Project 1619 is soliciting proposals and designs for the National Monument from sculptors, artist, and other interested parties.
The monument should be symbolic of the arrival of the first Africans, or their “Triumph Over Slavery”. The monument could be from any medium - bronze, stone, steel, etc. The commission shall be open to national competition as per the attached guidelines. For more information on the project, to submit monument proposal design ideas, or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Mr. Pearson below.
History of the First Africans
Between 1618 an 1620, thousands of Africans were enslaved during the war between King Alvaro III of Congo and his uncles and sold into slavery. There was also the war between the Portuguese Leader Endes de Vascondes and a band of a marauding mercenary soldiers against the Kingdom of Ndongo. In 1619 Africans were loaded aboard the Spanish ship Sao Joao Bautista and headed toward Vera Cruz, Mexico when it encountered the “White Lion” who many believe was an English ship with a Dutch flag and the “Treasurer” an English ship. The White Lion and the Treasurer captured cargo from the Sao Joao Bautista including nearly 60 Africans. The White Lion arrived at Point Comfort along the Virginia coast, present day Hampton during the latter part of August 1619 carrying 20 and odd Negros, where they all came ashore. Two of the original Africans who came ashore, Antonio and Isabella, became servants on the plantation of Capt. William Tucker who was the commander at Point Comfort. Some of the slaves were purchased by Governor George Yeardley and his Cape Merchant Abraham Piersey. They were then transported to plantations along the James River in what would become Charles City. The Treasurer arrived 3-4 days after the White Lion but was not allowed to trade their Africans so they left Point Comfort for Bermuda where they traded their Africans for corn. There is no documentation that either ship ever traveled to Jamestown to unload Africans. These Africans became the first Africans to arrive in America on British occupied territory.
In 1623 Antonio and Isabella gave birth to William Tucker, the first African child born in America. The Tucker Family and descendants from the first African child born in America still resides in Hampton. William Tucker is buried in Hampton.
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
"Honoring the 1st Africans who landed in the USA!"