Monday, March 27, 2023

Commission, schools partner on program to clarify history of first recorded African arrival in English-occupied North America

HAMPTON — Thirty Hampton City Schools educators will spend mornings July 23-26 learning the details regarding the first African arrival in English North America from subject matter experts.

The initiative is part of an effort to clarify the details of the 1619 arrival so that youth of Hampton, and the nation, learn the facts of this pivotal occurrence in American history, according to a news release from the Hampton Commemorative Commission.

As witnessed and recorded by John Rolfe, the first tobacco planter in the Virginia colony, on Aug. 20, 1619, the White Lion entered the Chesapeake Bay, docked at Point Comfort (present day Hampton) with Africans from the country Angola, of the Bantu culture. They spoke the languages of the Kimbundu and Kikongo.

Many were literate and hailed from highly organized societies. Two of those Africans, named Antoney and Isabell, became servants of Captain William Tucker, Commander of the fort at Point Comfort. Around 1623 or 1624, the union of Isabell and Antoney birthed the first African child in English North America, named William Tucker, according to the commission.

The other arriving Africans were interspersed within the Virginia colony, from Elizabeth City County to Jamestown.

Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission Co-Chairs Colita Fairfax and Lt. Col. Ret. Claude Vann, are among the discussion leaders that also include:

  • Chief Walt ‘Red Hawk’ Brown of the Cheroenhaka Nottoway Indian Tribe Southhampton County, speaking on July 23. Chief Red Hawk will lead a discussion about the rich culture and heritage of Virginia Indians, prior to the intersection of the English and Africans, and how war and conquest impacted Virginia Indians.
  • Michael Hucles, presenting on July 25. Hucles will discuss Virginia codified laws and statutes impacting African people with regards to racism, enslavement, and ‘free’ status, with emphasis on the 1619-1699 period.
  • Patrick Mbajeckwe, educating about the culture of the Bantu and the Angolans who arrived at Point Comfort aboard the White Lion (present day Hampton). Mbajeckwe will present a history of Angola and the events which led to the kidnapping of African people, the travails of the White Lion, the Middle Passage, and African (Bantu—Angolan) cultural influences in America.
  • June Montgomery, speaking about engaging children and lesson plan preparation of the K-12 Institute content. The presentation will include methods of instruction, ideas for educational creative modalities for each grade level, and bridge content to help students understand the contemporary relatability of the narrative.

Participating elementary, middle and high school teachers represent multiple disciplines including History, Special Education, General Education, English and Language Arts, Music, Library Media and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The program will be at Hilton Garden Inn,  1999 Power Plant Parkway, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission, established by Hampton City Council, sponsors the program that serves as a pilot for a broader outreach program occurring in 2019.

The event is one is a series of programs, events, and exhibits that will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first African arrival at Point Comfort in Hampton.

The commission’s role is to implement a plan to commemorate the 1619 landing of Africans in English North America, seeking international recognition of enslaved Africans’ and their point of entry at Point Comfort in English-occupied North America, and realizing this vision through discourse, planning and promotion of activities that broadly engage local, national and international audiences, according to the news release.

John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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