1619 and the Making of America


Library of Congress– Oct 15, 2018

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress convened a symposium that brought together respected scholars to explore the intricate encounters of Africans, Europeans and native people during this significant period in America’s history. In 1619, a Dutch ship with about 20 Africans on board entered a port at the English colony of Jamestown, Virginia. This event is known as the arrival of the first recorded Africans to English North America. Their historic arrival, however, marked the beginning of a trend in colonial America, in which the people of Africa were taken from their motherland and consigned to lifelong slavery.

From 1619 to 1650, during the life span of the first arriving Africans, racial discrimination emerged and chattel slavery would be codified into law. The symposium will ask questions related to the historical importance of these events in 1619. For example, who were the Africans who arrived in Virginia in 1619, where did they come from, what world did they bring with them? What emerged from Africans’ engagement with indigenous Native American populations and their spiritual and cultural life ways, and what is the enduring legacy of this encounter today?

The event also featured a display of treasures and historical items from the Library of Congress’ collections related to the early Americas. The symposium was held in collaboration with the Middle Passage Project of the College of William & Mary, the Virginia Commonwealth’s 2019 Commemoration and Norfolk State University.

Speaker Biography: Joanne M. Braxton is 2015 David M. Larson Fellow in spirituality and health at the John W. Kluge Center and the director of the Middle Passage Project at the College of William & Mary.

Speaker Biography: Robert Trent Vinson is Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings professor at the College of William & Mary.

Speaker Biography: Cassandra Newby-Alexander is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies at Norfolk State University and co-chair of Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration’s First Africans to English North America committee.

Speaker Biography: Lynette Lewis Allston is chief and tribal council chair of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, one of 11 officially recognized by the Commonwealth.

For transcript and more information, visit http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feat…

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