of Equality and Justice.
Hope is eternal. From the belly of the slave ship our ancestors held out hope that one day they would be returned to their homeland. The chattel slaves sang in the fields “Moses Let My People Go”. And now over 400 years later we sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” - Let us march on till victory is won - because America’s promise of equal opportunity, equality and justice are still an elusive dream.
The year 1619 represents the birth of Africa in America. It represents the beginning of slavery in America because many of those first 20 and odd Africans who arrived at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619 were never set free and they eventually became slaves according to Virginia Law. When we look back on the invasion of English settlers in this county in 1607, the landing of the first enslaved Africans is one of the most significant pivotal events ever to happen. 1619 was the beginning of the African Imprint on America and the culture of this nation.
Those first Africans were baptized Christians many years before they were kidnapped. Africans have made major contributions to the success of this country. Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Virginia, where those 20 and odd Africans were unloaded is ground zero. Just like an earthquake that radiates destruction from its ground zero, Point Comfort was the ground zero that radiated slavery and inhumanity across a nation. There are many people still living in America affected by the lingering social, economic and political impacts of slavery.
Africans were welcomed at Point Comfort with shackles and whips and sold like cattle on the trading block. Where was our Plymouth Rock or Ellis Island? Africans are the only foreigners brought to America in chains and against their will. When those Africans were brought here from Africa they exited through the Door of No Return. When they arrived at Point Comfort they entered a Door of No Return.
Remembering 1619 is not a celebration. We do not celebrate slavery. We do not celebrate the capture of 30 million Africans and the millions of Africans who died on the death march to the slave ports or who died coming through the Middle Passage. We shall commemorate and remember 1619 but we shall never celebrate a stain on the soul of this nation.
Our ancestors were Africans living in America. They were not considered citizens but only 3/5 of a human. The Dred Scott decision in 1857 reinstated that people of color were not citizens in this country and had no rights. Although the 14th Amendment in 1868 declared all Negros born or naturalized in the United States to be citizens, they were only words written on a paper. Africans were never given the right of true citizenship and had to endure another 196 years of unequaled rights until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. We soon found out that separate was not equal. The Dream lives on.
About the Author:
Calvin Pearson is the Founder of Project 1619 Inc.. He has led a grassroots effort since 1994 to tell the true story of the first enslaved Africans that had been purposely falsified since 1619. Mr. Pearson is also chairman of the National Juneteenth Grassroots Enslavement Legacy Commission. He has authored many magazine articles and papers on the subject and has been a driving force to get this story told.