In August 1619, 20 enslaved Africans were brought to Point Comfort in the English colony of Virginia—this site 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 enslaved 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 public 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 Commission's Strategic Plan outlines its mission, vision, core values, goals, and strategic initiatives. Learn more about the Commission at www.400yaahc.gov.
The Commission is administered by the National Park Service.
The Secretary of the Interior appointed the 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.
Dr. Rex M. Ellis, Chair, 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, Vice Chair (Acting Chair), Director, African American History Museum, Southern University New Orleans, Louisiana
Mr. Ron Carson, 2nd Vice Chair, Founder, Appalachian African-American Cultural Center; CEO and President, Carson Black Lung Centers, Pennington Gap, Virginia
Dr. Kirsten Buick, Professor of Art, Associate Dean of Equity and Excellence, and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
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
Ms. Kay Coulson, Volunteer Coordinato, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice (Retired); Founder, President, and CEO of n-Action Family Network, California
Ms. Kenya M. Cox, President, Kansas State Conference of NAACP Branches; District Director, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, 4th District, Kansas
Prophet N. “Anyanwu” Cox, M. Ed., Minister and Founder, Reconciliation Ministry Without Walls; International Missions; Retired Nurse; Community Advocate and Activist, Wichita, Kansas
Dr. Gwendolyn Diggs, Vice President, Head Start/Early Head Start, Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri
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
Dr. Cheryl N. Grills, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Loyola Marymount University, California
Hannibal B. Johnson, Esq., Attorney, Author, College Professor, and Independent Consultant; Member, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mr. Lewis H. Rogers, Jr., Superintendent, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, National Park Service, Virginia
Mr. H. Patrick Swygert, J.D., President Emeritus, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Terry E. Brown, Superintendent, Fort Monroe National Monument, National Park Service, Virginia
Meetings, Events, and Activities
Visit the Commission's website for information about meetings, events, and other activities.
Last updated: September 11, 2023