August 25, 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, now part of Fort Monroe National Monument, a unit of the National Park System.
The anniversary will be commemorated at Fort Monroe as a day of healing and reconciliation. The park and its partners are inviting all 419 national parks, NPS programs, community partners, and the public to come together in solidarity to ring bells simultaneously across the nation for four minutes--one for each century--to honor the first Africans who landed in 1619 at Point Comfort and 400 years of African American history.
Bells are symbols of freedom.
They are rung for joy, sorrow, alarm, and celebration...universal concepts in each of our lives. This symbolic gesture will enable Americans from all walks of life to participate in this historic moment from wherever they are--to capture the spirit of healing and reconciliation while honoring the significance of 400 years of African American history and culture.
Since its establishment on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service has cared for extraordinary historic and cultural sites that are pivotal parts of the American narrative. Parks and our programs can be places of healing and reconciliation. As we gather at parks on this day across the country to commemorate the landing of enslaved Africans 400 years ago, we honor this powerful moment in American history and the significance of four centuries of African American history and culture.
For parks and our partners, here’s how to engage with this moment.
Find a Bell
Your bell could be big, small, old, or new. It could be lots of little bells, one church bell, or a carillon. Be creative as you create a moment that has personal meaning, power, and resonance for you and your group.
Make your connection--explore the messaging above about the symbolism of bells. Does your site feature a bell? Share a picture or story about a historic bell, maybe the bell of a ship, on a writing desk, in the collection, in a building, in transportation. What does your bell symbolize? Joy, work, celebration, time, education, technology? Can you connect it to the concept of healing and reconciliation?
Plan Your Event
The nationwide bell ringing will take place at 3:00 p.m. EDT on August 25, 2019, the 400th anniversary. Choose a location that accommodates your audience comfortably and, ideally, is a place that has a connection to your group or community’s unique story. You may want to gather a few minutes early to be sure you’re ready at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Share Your Event
- Parks should ensure that their event (internal link for employees) is added to the park’s calendar on NPS.gov--be sure to tag it “400th commemoration” to have it appear on the main page for the 400th anniversary.
- Partners can share their events on their websites and work with their partner parks to ensure that their events are included in the park’s calendar on NPS.gov.
- Share the news of your event with media in your area. Feel free to share the messaging on the NPS page for the 400th anniversary to describe the nationwide moment and include your unique connection and messaging.
Use Social Media
Social media is a key way to share the moment with sites across the country and with people around the world. The event at Fort Monroe National Monument will be livestreamed. Consider livestreaming your program using Facebook Live or other social media platforms. (Parks should only use approved social media platforms.)
- Don’t forget to use the hashtags #RingToRemember and #400Years in your posts and link back to your event listing on your website.
- Explore your unique connection and messaging in your social. Invite your audience to share their stories, too.
- Use great photos in your post.
- Create a page on your website that explores the meaning behind your unique story and place and link to it from your social media posts that day.
Commemorative Events at Fort Monroe National Monument
If you’ll be in the Hampton, Virginia, area on August 23-25, learn more about attending the weekend of anniversary events on-site at Fort Monroe.
Last updated: August 20, 2019