From Africa to Virginia Month is commemorated annually in February. The early days of slavery in Virginia involved the enslavement of Native Americans by the English Colony of Virginia, lasting through the late 1700s. These slaves were primarily put to work in tobacco fields.
History of From Africa to Virginia Month
Over 350 Africans were kidnapped from their homes in what is now Angola, West Central Africa, in August of 1619. These individuals were placed on board a Portuguese slave ship destined for the “New World,” as Europeans termed it. They were seized during a series of wars fought by the Portuguese against the Kongo and Ndongo kingdoms, as well as other powers.
In a clash off the coast of Mexico, English pirates kidnapped the Africans from the ship. On the English privateer ship White Lion, about 20 to 30 Africans survived the subsequent expedition and arrived at Point Comfort, in the English outpost that would become Virginia (modern-day Fort Monroe, Hampton, Va.). In exchange for food and goods, these Africans were traded. After a few days, another vessel named The Treasurer landed with more enslaved Africans.
Even before the confrontation with the pirates, the traumatic trip that began with around 350 Africans aboard the Portuguese ship (San Juan Bautista) was one of horror, hunger, torture, and death. Over half the enslaved Africans on the ship died in the Middle Passage between the 1600s and the 1800s.
In 1969, a Virginia initiative coordinated by civil rights attorney Oliver Hill, and featuring Samuel DeWitt Proctor, commemorated the incident’s 350-year anniversary. However, it was criticized by some, including state senator Governor Douglas Wilder, as an inappropriate celebration. In 1994, the 375-year anniversary was also observed.
In 2019, the 400-year anniversary of the landing of Africans in what is now the United States was commemorated. The 400 Years of African-American History Commission was founded by Congress.
Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, and Hampton’s 2019 Commemoration Commission have since endorsed initiatives that illustrate not only the entry of Africans but other significant events in state and national history as well, such as the founding of the New World’s inaugural representative legislative assembly.
From Africa to Virginia Month timeline
In late August, enslaved Africans arrive at Point Comfort.
The 350-year anniversary of the Africans’ arrival is observed.
The 375-year anniversary is held.
The 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act is passed into law on January 8.
From Africa to Virginia Month FAQs
Why was Virginia important?
Virginia is considered the birthplace of the nation since it was the first sustained English settlement. In addition, Virginia is also called the “Mother of Presidents,” as it has produced no less than eight presidents.
When was slavery abolished in Virginia?
Slavery was abolished in the region of Virginia that was a devoted member of the U.S. on April 7, 1864, during a constitutional assembly for the Restored Government of Virginia.
Who sold slaves to the RAC?
The Duke of York, who was Charles II’s brother, led the Royal African Company. It transported more enslaved Africans to the Americas than just about any other corporation in Atlantic slave trade history. It was founded after Charles II’s restoration to the English monarchy in 1660.
How to Observe From Africa to Virginia Month
Learn more about the arrival of Africans
To commemorate From Africa to Virginia Month, you can brush up on your knowledge about the arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia. Familiarize yourself with the facts and share accurate information to do your part in keeping history intact.
Donate and volunteer
You can make donations and volunteer at organizations involved in researching, publishing, and distributing information related to the arrival of enslaved Africans. Get your friends and family involved in this process as well.
Raise awareness about this holiday by sharing information on social media. Post on your social media pages to support the programs and initiatives aimed at shedding light on the topic.
5 Facts About Slavery That Will Blow Your Mind
The Portuguese started trafficking Africans as early as the 1440s.
Although the Americans and the British abolished slavery in the early 1800s, the last recorded slave ship brought captives into Cuba in 1866.
Brazil was the primary destination for the majority of enslaved Africans during the slave trade era.
A population explosion
Following the American Revolution, the slave population in the South skyrocketed from over one million in 1810 to almost four million in 1860.
In 1820, you could count four Africans who had achieved the same feat for every European that had traveled across the Atlantic; over four in five women who had sailed the Atlantic were African.
Why From Africa to Virginia Month is Important
It highlights African contribution to the United States
From Africa to Virginia Month is a reminder of the resilience of African Americans. The day highlights the cultural influence of Africans on American culture.
We re-evaluate the effects of a dark past
The month allows us to acknowledge the horrors of slavery; how racially discriminating laws, torture, rape, and killings affected the nation.
It encourages further research
Events and programs surrounding the holiday help shed light on crucial issues surrounding the arrival of Africans. This focus helps encourage further scholarly research into the history of Africans in the U.S.
From Africa to Virginia Month dates