An official event of Ghana’s “Year of Return,” Jamestown to Jamestown will allow for NAACP leadership, NAACP members, and members of the African American community to honour both ancestors and the struggle for Black liberation in a ground-breaking trek from Jamestown, Virginia to Jamestown in Accra, Ghana in August of this year.
“Jamestown to Jamestown represents one of the most powerful moments in the history of the Black Experience,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “We are now able to actualize the healing and collective unity so many generations have worked to achieve in ways which bring power to our communities in America, Africa and throughout our Diaspora.”
But “Project 1619” an organization which began in 1994, to expose the true narrative of the landing of the first enslaved Africans brought to English occupied North America, maintains that on August 25, 1619, the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to the Colonial Colonies of English North America landed at Point Comfort (today’s Fort Monroe) in Hampton, Virginia.
According to the narrative, The first Africans did not arrive at Ellis Island, Plymouth Rock, or Jamestown, but arrived as captured human cargo on the high seas during the transatlantic slave trade. In August 1619, the English privateer ship the White Lion, landed at Point Comfort carrying the 20 and odd Africans who had been captured from the slave ship San Juan Bautista in a fierce battle in the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico.
In consort with the White Lion was another English privateer ship, the Treasurer, who also took enslaved Africans. This was the first time a privateer or pirate ship had unknowingly mistaken a Spanish galleon ship for a slave ship whose primary cargo was human Africans. The first enslaved Africans who were brought to Point Comfort were not immigrants, but their landing was one of the most significant events in American history.
“This is where the story of Africans in America began. On that unfaithful day on Tuesday August 25, 1619, two Africans, Isabella and Antony, captured from Angola, stepped off an English privateer the “White Lion” on the land at Point Comfort to start a legacy and a 400 year odyssey to create a new home for generations of future descendants.” They were sold for food.
In January 1625, according to the Virginia census, those two Africans, Isabella, Antonio and their son William were living in present day Hampton in Capt. William Tucker’s home, who was the commander at Point Comfort (today’s Fort Monroe).
Their son William is the first documented African child born in English North America. He was baptized on January 4, 1624.
There is an ongoing discussion in Virginia as to whether the first Africans who were brought here in 1619 were slaves or indentured.
According to ‘Project 1619’, “we know for a fact that in 1619 the institution of slavery in Virginia did not exist. The General Assembly did not codify legal slavery into a law until 1661.
White indentured servants had a contract typically of 7 years. They had no free will,” the project noted.
“The first Africans did not have a contract but were treated as indentured servants, as most of the first Africans were eventually freed. From Isabella, Antony and William at present day Hampton, the Blizzards in present day Surry County, The Goins, Cornish, and Anthony Johnson and Mary in Isle of Wight County, and the Driggers and others at Piercey’ Plantation, they all were freed after 15-20 years of servitude.
The first generations of Africans brought to Virginia were captured from the villages of Ndongo, Congo and Kabasa in the Angola region of Africa. Those first enslaved Africans were skilled farmers, herders, blacksmiths and artisans. They had the perfect skill set needed for the colonies to survive.
Along with their culture, they also brought many ideas and innovations including flood ways, crop cultivation, music and dance. It was their unbridled spirit and labor that helped build Hampton, Fort Monroe, America, and the White House, but they toiled through many generations of unpaid bondage servitude, civil unrest, and the march for civil rights, before their descendants became legal citizens.
Those first twenty and odd enslaved Africans who arrived at Point Comfort marked the beginning of 246 years of unpaid servitude. For the first two generations from 1619 until 1661 some of the enslaved Africans were granted their freedom and in some cases were able to purchase the freedom of their relatives, start their own homesteads, and employ indentured servants.
Once their freedom was granted they were able to start their own homesteads, marry white and Native Americans, purchase the freedom of their family relatives, own land, and enjoy the fruits of freedom. The first 40 years in Virginia was not typical of the next 200 years when slavery became legal.
Yet others were held in bondage for life or until 1661 when Virginia established a law legalizing lifelong servitude of all un-free Africans.
Slavery and the Middle Passage was an event of monumental proportion that not just affected North America and the Caribbean but changed Africa forever. Capturing over 30 million Africans from West and East Africa, and killing millions more in battle, removed child bearing young women and African boys and men, that changed the dynamics of the African family forever.
The Jamestown to Jamestown events kickoff August 18 in Washington D.C., where participants will travel via bus to Jamestown, Virginia for a prayer vigil and candle-lighting ceremony marking the African “Maafa,” a term describing the horrific suffering embedded in the past four centuries related to the enslavement process.
Participants will then travel back to DC for a gathering at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (which was designed by Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye) prior to departing to Ghana on a direct flight for 7 to 10 days of cultural, spiritual and cathartic experiences designed to connect the present to the African past.
Some trip events include:
• Prayer Vigil at Jamestown, VA Settlement
• Direct Chartered Flight to Ghana from Washington, DC
• Ancestral Healing Ceremony at Jamestown, Accra
• Business, Investment & Development Summit
• Black Tie Gala
• AfricanAncestry.com DNA Reveal Ceremony
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