In August 1619, 20 enslaved Africans were brought to Point Comfort in the English colony of Virginia. Point Comfort is now part of Fort Monroe National Monument.
The 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act, signed into law January 8, 2018, established a 15-member commission to coordinate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in the English colonies.
The Commission's purpose is to plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities throughout the United States that:
- recognize and highlight the resilience and cultural contributions of Africans and African Americans over 400 years;
- acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States;
- encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, and economic organizations to organize and take part in anniversary activities;
- assist states, localities, and nonprofit organizations to further the commemoration; and
- coordinate scholarly research about the arrival of Africans and their contributions to the United States.
The Commission may also provide:
- grants to communities and nonprofit organizations to develop programs;
- grants to research and scholarly organizations to research, publish, or distribute information about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and
- technical assistance to states, localities, and nonprofit organizations.
The Secretary of the Interior has appointed Commission members based on recommendations by Members of Congress, state governors, civil rights and historical organizations, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Park Service.
Mr. Terry E. Brown, Superintendent, Fort Monroe National Monument, National Park Service, Virginia
Mr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; former President, Chicago Historical Society; Former Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of American History, Washington, DC
Mr. Ron Carson, CEO, Carson Black Lung Research and Education Center; Founder, Appalachian African-American Cultural Center; Former Black Lung Program Director, Stone Mountain Health Services, Pennington Gap, Virginia
Ms. Kenya M. Cox, NAACP Kansas State President; Executive Director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, Office of the Governor, Wichita, Kansas
Reverend Nora “Anyanwu” Cox, Minister and Founder, Holy Spirit Healing Ministry; Retired Nurse; Community Advocate and Activist, Wichita, Kansas
Dr. Rex M. Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Former Vice President, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Board of Trustees, Fort Monroe Authority, Williamsburg, Virginia
Mr. Ted T. Ellis, Artist and Cultural Historian; Art Ambassador, National Juneteenth Organization, Friendswood, Texas (formally of New Orleans, Louisiana)
Mr. Glenn M. Freeman, President, Omaha Chapter, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, a patriotic civic organization; retired decorated Air Force Chief Master Sergeant; Omaha, Nebraska
Dr. Joseph L. Green, Jr., Pastor and Co-Founder Antioch Assembly; Founder/CEO, Josiah Generation Ministries; Founder, The 2019 Movement, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Mr. Hannibal B. Johnson, Attorney, Author, and Independent Consultant specializing in diversity and inclusion/cultural competence issues and non-profit governance, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mr. Kenneth S. Johnson, CEO, Johnson, Inc., Richmond-based marketing and communications firm; Board of Trustees, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
Mr. Bob Kendrick, President, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Mr. George K. Martin, Managing Partner, McGuireWoods law firm, Richmond office; Member, 2019 Commemoration (VA) Steering Committee, Richmond, Virginia
Dr. Myron L. Pope, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Central Oklahoma; Adjunct Instructor, Department of African and African-American Studies, The University of Oklahoma; Advisory Board Member, Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Edmond, Oklahoma
Mr. Lewis H. Rogers, Jr., Superintendent, Petersburg National Battlefield, National Park Service, Virginia