As we honor the 400 year commemoration of resistance and liberation of people of African ascent, it is critical to name why this moment is important. Why should we honor 1619, considering that slavery was practiced in the Americas prior to British involvement? And why is it important to relive old memories that are harmful and traumatic? The resources below will help us answer these questions and better contextualize the roots of slavery in the United States.
Naming the moment
- 400 Years of Inequality (Web page)
This is an interactive website highlighting efforts around the country to hold and commemorate 400 years of resistance and liberation of people of African ascent.
Understanding 1619 was not the beginning
- Afrikan presence in early America (YouTube video)
- The fallacy of 1619: Rethinking the history of Africans in early America (Article)
"In 1619, '20 and odd Negroes' arrived off the coast of Virginia, where they were 'bought for victualle' by labor-hungry English colonists. The story of these captive Africans has set the stage for countless scholars interested in telling the story of slavery in English North America. Unfortunately, 1619 is not the best place to begin a meaningful inquiry into the history of African peoples in America. Certainly, there is a story to be told that begins in 1619, but it is neither well-suited to help us understand slavery as an institution nor to help us better grasp the complicated place of African peoples in the early modern Atlantic world.”
How do you relate to the history of enslavement, resistance, and liberation of people of African ascent? What does this history mean for you and your people? And what does a future without harm and continual oppression look like?
For further reading
- Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585-1660 by Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton (Book)
- Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 (Studies in Comparative World History) by John Thornton (Book)