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 will meet at least three times a year.
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 Commission's Strategic Plan outlines the mission, vision, values, goals, and initiatives for the 400th anniversary commemoration.
February 13, 2019 Meeting
The Commission met in Washington, DC on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. A public forum was held from 3 pm to 5 pm at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
November 28, 2018 Meeting
The Commission met at Fort Monroe National Monument on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.
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.
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, Founder, Appalachian African-American Cultural Center; CEO and President, Carson Black Lung Centers, Pennington Gap, Virginia
Ms. Kenya M. Cox, President, Kansas State Conference of NAACP Branches; Executive Director, Kansas African American Affairs Commission, Office of the Governor, Topeka, 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. Rex M. Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Former Vice President, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Member, 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 and CEO, Josiah Generation Ministries; Founder, The 2019 Movement, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Hannibal B. Johnson, Esq., Attorney, Author, College Professor, and Independent Consultant; Member, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Mr. Kenneth S. Johnson, President and CEO, JMI, a Richmond-based marketing and communications firm; Member, Board of Trustees, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
Mr. Bob Kendrick, President, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
Mr. George Keith 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. H. Patrick Swygert, J.D., President Emeritus, Howard University, Washington, DC
Mr. Lewis H. Rogers, Jr., Superintendent, Petersburg National Battlefield, National Park Service, Virginia
Related Links400 Years of African-American History Commission Act (Public Law 115-102)
African American Heritage—stories of the African American experience preserved in our national parks and historic places
Fort Monroe National Monument
The Commission is administered by the National Park Service. For more information about the Commission and its activities, please contact:
Christine Lucero, Commission Liaison
400 Years of African-American History Commission
P.O. Box 210
Yorktown, VA 23690
email e-mail us
Last updated: May 20, 2019