1619: First African Landing

The arrival of “20 and odd” African men and women at Hampton’s Point Comfort in 1619 was a pivotal moment in the nation’s history. Stolen by English privateers from a Spanish slave ship and brought to Point Comfort in late August of 1619 on a ship called the White Lion, these natives of west central Africa were later sold for food and suppliers. They were the first Africans to arrive in English North America.

Four hundred years later, a series of special events and activities are planned, tied to the landing date in late August, including:

Friday, Aug. 23

  • 9:30-11 a.m.: A reflection and commemoration ceremony at the Tucker Family Cemetery in Hampton. Dedicated in 2016, the cemetery traces its history to the 1600s.
  • 12 p.m.: African American Political Pioneers luncheon and panel discussion at the Hampton Roads Convention Center (paid, ticketed event)

Saturday, Aug. 24

  • 9:30-11 a.m.: A preview ceremony for the new Commemoration and Visitor Center at Fort Monroe
  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m.: A commemorative program at Fort Monroe that includes food trucks, vendors, cultural group displays, historical tours, living history lessons, drumming and dancing presentations, youth performances and storytelling
  • 12-4 p.m.: Black Heritage Tours sponsored by the National Park Service at Fort Monroe
  • 1-4:30 p.m.: African Landing Day Program at Fort Monroe
  • 6-10 p.m.: 2019 Commemoration Concert at Fort Monroe

Sunday, Aug. 25: A “Day of Healing” and Gospel Music Festival at For Monroe

More information on these and other events ­ – before and after Aug. 25 – is on a brochure that’s available online from the Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission. ­Appointed by Hampton City Council, Commission members have helped plan, promote and implement activities surrounding the 1619 arrival.

Watch a Commission video on 1619 and related events below: 

Also available:

1619: Virginia’s First Africans, a 14-page report prepared by the Hampton History Museum. The report explores the events leading up to the arrival, the history of early Africans in Virginia, slavery, christianity and indentured servitude.

1619 African Arrival Exhibit: Drawing on the latest research, this exhibit at the Hampton History Museum tells the story of those first Africans arrival, their home in Angola, the voyage that brought them to Virginia, and their lives on farms and plantations in the new colony.