Currents News Staff
Four hundred years ago this month, the first documented Africans were brought to British North America.
The arrival of about 20 captured africans in Hampton, Virginia, began a painful era of American slavery.
By the Chesapeake Bay and at the same port where they arrived, thousands honored those captured by floating flower petals and prayers to them and those who did not survive the voyage.
“The ghost of the past is still alive with us today. You can feel it as you walk around and look at the backdrop here,” said Qahir Abdur-Rahman, an attendee.
Under the backdrop of fort monroe, people felt what shackles would have been like and took pictures at the historic marker where the ship dubbed ‘White Lion’ arrived.
Asia Leeds, the co-Director of African Diaspora Studies at Spelman College, explained how they group wasn’t the first group of Africans in America. There were others who had already taken to what were then Spanish, Portuguese and French territories.
But, their arrival does mark the first arrival to English North America.
“It marks the beginning of the foundations of this nation, of which slavery is deeply embedded. So we have the beginnings of not just U.S. governing systems, right? They emerge out of this colonial history but also the foundations of American wealth,” she said.
“Now we are engineers, lawyers, doctors, presidents, maybe a future female president, but we’ve come a long way,” said event attendee Tanya Woolfolk.
While they look at the traditions that made them who they are, the next generation is also looking at what the world could be.
“Imagine the problems that would be solved if all people were kind find and feel cared for…it does not matter what your race or religion may be, we all deserve kindness,” said Brycen Dildy, a student in attendance.