The Importance of Our Story
Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Enslaved African Landing Day
In 2008, the first commemoration of Enslaved African Landing Day took place at Mill Point Park in Hampton, VA. Since that time, it has become an annual event.
The 400th Commemoration of the landing of the First enslaved Africans at Point Comfort, present day Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia took place on August 25, 2019. It received global attention and was attended by thousands of people with numerous dignitaries and organizations participating in the program.
Project 1619 Inc. would like to thank all of the partners who came together to put on an extraordinary, once in a lifetime event. Thank you Commonwealth of Virginia and American Evolution; the City of Hampton; the National Park Service at Fort Monroe; the Fort Monroe Authority; Roots to Glory Tours who created an uplifting African Naming and Healing Ceremony; and the wealth of all of the partners and volunteers who participated in this event.
The 400th Commemoration is over. The lights have been turned off. The tents have been removed. The speakers have gone back home. Promises were made. But we were reminded that words are only words until they become actions. The commemoration enlightened many the need to tell the TRUTH about America from its early beginnings and how we still treat people of color today. Africans, African Americans, and American Africans, over 400 years have made significant contributions to the success of this country. This is our country too. We built this country.
The 400th commemoration was not the end, just a new beginning. Project 1619 Inc. continues to plan and facilitate Enslaved African Landing Day on an annual basis, although we do not anticipate a commemoration program on the same scale as 2019.
Since that time, hundreds of people continue to come out to commemorate the first landing of Enslaved Africans in English North America at Point Comfort, today's Fort Monroe.
The event begins with a Drum Call and Parade of African flags procession to the main stage. In the opening ceremony, we were blessed with a libation and a call to the ancestors to allow us to proceed. The ceremony features African dancers and drummers who provide a beat that has been passed down from generation to generation as the heartbeat and culture of our homeland – Africa. We ring the bell for Reconciliation, Healing, Remembrance and Hope.
The program concludes with the Ceremonial Flower Petal Throwing of flowers into the water. Each petal represents the thousands of lives lost in battle, lives lost coming through the Middle Passage, and for those who made it to their port of No Return. Point Comfort was a Door of No Return for the first Angolans brought to its shores that would usher in 246 years of human bondage and servitude.
In 2021, our keynote speaker – KRS-One, gave a rousing, Amen, presentation on the state of Black America from 1619 to present day. We are no longer defined by the Colonists' impression of our ancestors. We are no longer defined by the enslavers and those who oppressed us.
The first enslaved Africans that landed in 1619 brought their own culture and skills that were needed to build a new country. It's time we tell OUR Story! A story that says Africans were the first explorers, the first architects, the first ship builders, the first engineers, the first philosophers, the first educators, and the first people on every continent.
"Year 1619 is one of the most important events in America’s history, If the waters could talk, maybe they could tell us about the history that’s often been overlooked." - Calvin Pearson, Founder & President, Project 1619, Inc.