(Hampton, VA) -
The first landing of Africans in the New World that took place in Hampton has been a little known event until recently.
All that's about to change on Aug. 20 when African Landing Commemoration Day will be formally celebrated on its anniversary.
The city of Hampton has partnered with Project 1619 Inc. and Fort Monroe to commemorate the first landing of about 20 Africans in the New World on British occupied territory, according to Calvin Pearson, president of 1619 Inc.
Pearson said Hampton has always celebrated Landing Day for the Settlers in 1610 but the African arrival has received less attention. Although the event was marked at a remembrance event in 2009 at Mill Point Park, this month marks the first time an event has been held at the place of landing on Fort Monroe.
The first Africans arrived at Old Point Comfort, a site that's now occupied Monroe on Aug. 20, 1619.
On the anniversary, the American Theater in Phoebus will host a free symposium at 3:30 p.m. entitled "Dispelling the Myth of Jamestown." Panelists will include scholar and historian Bill Wiggins, Pearson and the Rev. Ronald Myers, founder of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
At 6 p.m. the American Theater will host the Juneteenth Jazz Heritage, Reconciliation & Healing Concert.
At 7:30 p.m. Fort Monroe will host the African Landing Commemoration Day Candlelight Ceremony in an event that will take place near the fishing pier. Activities will include a prayer, libation, and lighting candles in remembrance of the first Africans who landed at Old Point Comfort.
Traditionally the event has been described as a landing by a Dutch ship carrying North America's first Africans who were bound over as indentured servants and traveled overland to Jamestown. However, Pearson said the symposium will look at evidence the Africans did not arrive at Jamestown.
"Only two of the first 20 and odd Africans went to Jamestown," Pearson said.
Project 1619 Inc. is raising funds for a monument at Fort Monroe to commemorate the landing. For further information call 757-380-1319 or go to http://www.project1619.org
See the Hampton Matters blog at dailypress.com/hamptonmatters