She stepped off a boat and into history.
Angela, as she is known, was among the first Africans to live in Jamestown, the famed English settlement. Originally on a slave ship headed for the Spanish new world, Angela and others were stolen off the ship and brought initially to what is now Hampton, Va.
Next August will mark 400 years since their arrival in 1619. Historic Jamestowne already offers a tour about their experience – and the evolution of race-based slavery. More opportunities to commemorate the anniversary and learn about African-American history, resilience, and contributions will be available in the coming years, thanks to a law with bipartisan support that was signed by President Trump in January.
Other commissions already in place also focus on America’s English and Spanish roots. “Black history is American history,” explains Sen. Cory Booker (D) of New Jersey, one of the law's supporters.
The potential impact of commemorating the anniversary can be seen in Jamestown. Mark Summers, the public historian for Jamestown Rediscovery and the author of the First Africans tour, says he has seen it create “meaningful interracial dialogue” among guests. He is surprised by how much people from diverse backgrounds have needed the tour. “I say needed because people who want to have dialogue or a forum for this painful history don’t know where to go. We are still mostly very segregated socially in this country,” he writes in an email.
But, he adds, “I feel inspired by the audience and a little more hopeful.”
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