Commemoration of the First African Landing

A view of the outside two stone bastion walls, a water moat, and a flagpole with the American flag flying against a blue sky.
A view of the outside two stone bastion walls at Fort Monroe.

NPS Photo

A sign explains how the first Africans in arrived Virginia. It stands along a sidewalk next to the water.
First Africans in Virginia sign stands just outside of Fort Monroe.

NPS Photo

Friday, August 23 - Sunday, August 25

The multi-day event is centered around the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in 1619. As recorded by English colonist John Rolfe, the arrival of “20 and odd” African men and women at Point Comfort in late August 1619, was a pivotal moment in the nation’s history. Stolen by English privateers from a Spanish slave ship and brought to Point Comfort on a ship called the White Lion, these natives of west central Africa are believed to have been traded for food and supplies. They were the first Africans to be brought to English North America. The site of the ship’s arrival is the present site of Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia.

The events will feature a commemorative ceremony, a preview of the new Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center, a healing day, Black Cultural tours, living history demonstrations, storytelling, and youth and musical performances. Details include:

Friday, August 23
  • 9:30 am-10:30 am – Tucker Family Cemetery Reflection and Commemoration
  • 12:00 pm-3:00 pm – African American Political Firsts Luncheon and Panel Discussion at the Hampton Convention Center (Paid Ticketed Event)
  • 6:00 pm-8:00 pm – “Evolution of a Black Girl: From the Slave House to the Main House” at the Fort Monroe Community Center (Free Youth Event)
  • 6:00 pm-8:00 pm – “The 400th Commemoration Panel at Hampton: Four Centuries of Perseverance, 1619-2019” at Hampton University
Saturday, August 24
  • 6:30 am-8:00 am – Project 1619 Morning Sunrise African Naming Ceremony at Buckroe Beach
  • 9:30 am-11:30 am – 2019 African Landing Commemorative Ceremony, Commanding General’s Residence, Continental Park, Fort Monroe – including remarks from CNN political contributor Van Jones; reading of an original Nikki Giovanni poem and remarks and greetings from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam; US Senator Mark Warner; US Senator Tim Kaine; US Representative Bobby Scott (VA-3), and Dr. Joseph Green, Jr., Chair of 400 Years of African American History Federal Commission
  • 11:30 am-5:00 pm – Hampton 2019 Commemorative Program, Fort Monroe – Featuring vendors, cultural group displays, exhibitors, living history, musical performances, and more
  • 12:00 pm-3:30 pm – African Landing Day Program presented by Project 1619
  • 12:00 pm-4:00 pm – Black Cultural Tours at Fort Monroe on the hour at 12, 1, 2, 3, and 4 pm
  • 6:30 pm-10:00 pm – 2019 First African Landing Day Commemoration Concert at the Hampton Coliseum featuring GRAMMY-award winning rapper and actor, Common, with Sounds of Blackness

Sunday, August 25
  • 1:00 pm-8:00 pm – Day of Healing and Gospel Music Festival at Continental Park – including keynote remarks by Michael Eric Dyson.
The event will also feature cultural group displays from Project 1619, the Contraband Historical Society, and the US Colored Troops, and exhibitions from Virginia institutions and museums, including the National Park Service, American Evolution, Hampton History Museum, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Casemate Museum, and more.

For more details, please visit the Hampton VA 2019 Commemorative Commission -- 1619-2019 Commemoration First African Landing website.

Last updated: August 24, 2019

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Mailing Address:

41 Bernard Road
Building #17

Fort Monroe, VA 23651-1001


757-722-FORT (3678)

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