HAMPTON — The Hampton History Museum has prepared a new report detailing the arrival nearly 400 years ago of a small group of Africans at Point Comfort.
The report, “1619: Virginia’s First Africans,” tells how the Africans came to be aboard the English privateer ship that landed at Point Comfort – they were the first recorded Africans to arrive in England’s mainland colonies – and the role their arrival played in the future of America, according to a news release from the museum.
The 400th anniversary of the 1619 arrival will be celebrated locally, statewide and nationally this August.
The museum already has a special exhibit highlighting the arrival. According to the museum: “The landing of the first Africans in Virginia is one of the most significant events we interpret. Although English colonists in Virginia did not invent slavery, and the transition from a handful of bound African laborers to a legalized system of full-blown chattel slavery took many decades, 1619 marks the beginning of race-based bondage that defined the African American experience.”
Hampton’s status as the location for the first landing is a double-edged sword. We are uniquely positioned to tell a powerful story, but it is a challenging narrative fraught with controversy, myth, and contradictions that strike at the heart of the intersection between American slavery and American freedom.”
The report was prepared by museum historian Beth Austin.
Along with several frequently asked questions and other information, it can be found at www.hamptonhistorymuseum.org/1619. You can also go online to learn more about the 1619 commemoration that will be held in Hampton Aug. 19-21.