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400 Years of Perseverance Commemoration
April 25 – May 8, 2019
yorktow, va

The 400th Commemoration of the arrival of Africans in the first permanent English Colony in North America highlights the perseverance of Africans from 1619 to the present. The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) views the 400th Commemoration as an event of historic importance for all people, but especially those of African descent.

The story of Africans in the English Colony of Virginia begins with the founding of the Colony in 1607, under the rule of King James I of England. In August of 1619, the first African men and women arrived by ship at Point Comfort, present-day Fort Monroe, in Hampton, Virginia. This fact is known because John Rolfe, Secretary and Recorder General of Virginia, recorded the arrival of “20 and odd Negroes” in 1619. Some of the Africans became part of the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. America places historic importance on the Jamestown Settlement as the cornerstone of the United States.

Forced migration of Africans to the Virginia colony in 1619 reminds us that they came before the Mayflower, which arrived in 1620. By this commemoration, ASALH pays tribute to 400 years of the creative industry of a people who were kidnapped and brought unwillingly to these shores and who, with resolute African spirit, fought for human dignity and equality.

There have been several commissions created to commemorate this 400-year journey including the Federal legislation introduced by Congressman Bobby Scott titled “The 400 Years of African American History Commission Act,” H.R. 1242 – 115. ASALH has, in turn, established The 400th Commemoration Committee.

Other organizations have projects including the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP). Ann Chinn, former editor of Port of Harlem magazine, first announced the project in the November 2008 - January 2009 issue of Port of Harlem magazine. MPCPMP has since placed markers in several documented Middle Passage arrival sites in the U.S. These are the places where enslaved children, women, and men first placed their feet after the transatlantic voyage from Africa.   
The ASALH website includes an exhaustive list of events scheduled for various parts of the country for the 400th Commemoration.
Ghana, the Black Star Republic, has been promoting this as the “Year of the Return.”  Several groups sponsoring trips to Ghana including the NAACP Jamestown to Jamestown tour – August 18-August 25.

"We have activities for the whole year," says John Kennedy Kubamadu of Celmar Travel and Tours, which is based in the United States and Ghana,via WhatsApp.

ASALH’s 400th Commemoration Committee seeks to educate America and the global community about the arrival of Africans in the Virginia Colony and tell the story of the resilience of the African American family, their contributions to America, and most of all African American perseverance over four centuries.

ASALH is the brainchild of Dr. Carter G. Woodson. In the spirit of his work, the ASALH website includes an exhaustive list of events scheduled for various parts of the country for the 400th Commemoration. 
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