HAMPTON, Va. – Four hundred and two years after the first Africans were recorded as arriving in the United States, Hampton Roads is hosting a commemoration.
It’s being organized by the Fort Monroe Authority, the National Park Service, Project 1619 and the City of Hampton. It will be held Saturday, August 21, starting at 11 a.m. at Fort Monroe Continental Park.
Eola Dance, acting superintendent for Fort Monroe National Monument, said they plan to make it a yearly tradition.
“African Landing Day is a significant history and story related to Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, and as I mentioned, our global shared narrative of African American experience and of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade," Dance said.
Throughout the day, speakers will explore themes of origins, identity and freedom.
At noon on Saturday, there will be a bell-ringing ceremony to remember the first enslaved Africans and honor 402 years of African American history.
There will also be African dance and drum performances. The event is free and open to the public.
Organizers say parking is limited on Fort Monroe; however, there is a free park and ride through Hampton Roads Transit. Anyone wishing to park their car and ride a bus to Fort Monroe is asked to park at the HRT Transit Center at Pembroke and King Street in Downtown Hampton.
Buses will leave every 30 minutes starting at 9:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. The last shuttle returning from Fort Monroe will leave at 4 p.m.
Here is a schedule shown on the Fort Monroe website:
Saturday, August 21, 2021
Continental Park, Fort Monroe
- 11 am – Opening program will include traditions and culture of West Africa including the pouring of libation, dancers, and drummers; welcome messages; stakeholder special remarks; featured keynote address by author, performer, producer, and emcee KRS-One.
- 12 noon – National Bell Ringing Ceremony followed by reflections from invited West African delegates and representatives and concludes with a procession and wreath-laying.
- 1:30 pm – Evolution of Freedom concert featuring acclaimed trombonist, composer, and producer Delfeayo Maralis; and a "talk-back" session with KRS-One.