Afro-American Historical and Genealogy Society (AAHGS) members were touring Jamestown, VA in observance of the 400 years since the first known documented Africans arrived into English America when a presenter shared what they felt were ugly words. It was during the July 4 presentation that many members claim they witnessed the presenter saying the Africans were “enslaved” because “their skin was black in color and black represented dark, dirty, and ugly.”
The Jamestown Rediscovery Manager is also being accused of saying that the English were not enslaved because “their skin represented white, purity, and beauty.”
In utter disbelief, Dr. Evelyn McDowell, National President of the Sons and Daughters of the United States Passage, asked how the presenter had come to this understanding. He reportedly replied that is what he had learned in school in Virginia.
In response, AAHGS President Gene Stephenson wrote a protest letter to Virginia Governor Ralph Northern and the Jamestown managers. However, the Jamestown site is owned by Preservation Virginia, a private non-profit that receives no state funding; therefore, not subject to much political pressure.
Part of the discourse was over the status of the first Africans. Ric Murphy, AAHGS Vice President of History, asserts, “The colonial records don't support the false narrative that this particular group of Africans were enslaved. The institution didn't start until a half century later as evidenced by the colonial records.”