JAMESTOWN — Jamestown Settlement will honor the legacy of the first recorded Africans brought to Virginia in 1619 on Saturday, Aug. 20
The First Africans Commemoration, in its second year at Jamestown Settlement, takes place at 2 p.m. Programming will reflect on the theme of “being first” through an African American lens. A 90-minute program in the Robins Foundation Theater will feature a spoken-word presentation and a community discussion.
Barbara Hamm Lee of WHRV-FM’s “Another View” will moderate the panel discussion featuring Christy S. Coleman, executive director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and Clayton Singleton, a Norfolk artist, teacher and spoken-word performer.
“It’s very fitting for us to include it in our lineup of programs since many of those first Africans in 1619 ended up in Jamestown, and this is where all the laws that affected the lives of subsequent generations first got started,” said Abigail Schumann, Event Coordinator for the First Africans Commemoration. “We anchor it in that history, and then we really concentrate on the legacy, and that’s what we will be doing with this program. Looking at being first through an African American lens.”
At 3:30 p.m., attendees can enjoy a special showing of “History Half Told is Untold,” a documentary produced by the Let Freedom Ring Foundation that offers an in-depth look at the 245-year history of Williamsburg’s historic First Baptist Church — the oldest continually active African American church in the United States established by free and enslaved Blacks.
“I feel one of the most important things that we should do with our programming is show people not only the continuity of history, but also that what happens in the past directly affects what happens today,” Schumann said. “We want to ground these programs in history and give people a bit of that background and then bring it forward to show how those legacies are affecting people today, or informing people today.”
In addition to the discussion and showings, Jamestown Settlement also has gallery exhibits, dramatic films, and interactives that share the story of Virginia’s Indian, English and West Central African cultures.
Using period artifacts and innovative technology, permanent exhibits share historical
accounts of the first documented Africans brought to Virginia in 1619 from their homeland in Ndongo (Angola) to life in the Virginia colony and the evolution of a new African American culture. The “From Africa to Virginia” multimedia presentation chronicles African encounters with Europeans, the impact on African culture and the development of the transatlantic slave trade.
The “First Africans Commemoration” special event is free for residents of James City
County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students,
with proof of residency. The event is included with museum admission: $18 for adults, $9 for ages 6-12, and free for children ages 5 and under. Tickets can be purchased online or in person. Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call 757-253-4838 or visit the Jamestown Settlement Webpage.