July 1, 2019

–Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission, Hampton City Schools partner to educate teachers on truth of first recorded Africans brought to English-occupied North America–

HAMPTON, VA—Forty Hampton City Schools’ educators will spend mornings July 15-18 learning the details of the first Africans brought to English North America and their 1619 arrival at Point Comfort in Hampton, site of Fort Monroe. Daily presentations by subject matter experts will attempt to clarify the details so that educators of youth in Hampton, the region and the nation learn the facts of this pivotal occurrence in American history and can more effectively share their knowledge with the youth they teach. 

As witnessed and recorded by John Rolfe, the first tobacco planter in the Virginia colony, on August 25, 1619, the White Lion entered the Chesapeake Bay, docked at Point Comfort with Africans of the Bantu culture from Angola. They spoke the languages of the Kimbundu and Kikongo. Many were literate and hailed from highly organized societies. Two of those Africans named Antoney and Isabell, served the homestead of Captain William Tucker, commander of the

fort at Point Comfort. The other arriving Africans were interspersed within the Virginia colony, from Elizabeth City County to Jamestown. Between 1623 and 1624, the union of Isabell and Antoney resulted in the birth and baptism of William Tucker, named for the person whose property they served. William Tucker is the first documented child of African descent born in English North America.

Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission Co-Chair Dr. Colita Fairfax is among the discussion leaders that also include:

Dr. Patrick Mbajeckwe, Associate Professor of History at Norfolk State University, will educate about the culture of the Bantu and the Angolans who arrived at Point Comfort aboard the White Lion in present day Hampton. Dr. Mbajeckwe will present a history of Angola, the events which led to the kidnapping of African people, the travails of the White Lion, the Middle Passage, and African (Bantu—Angolan) cultural influences in America.

Dr. Cassandra Newby Alexander, Professor of History and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Norfolk State University, will address codified race-based laws and ways in which teachers may instruct such content in lesson plans. Dr. Alexander also serves on the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH) Executive Council 400th Commemoration Committee and the Virginia 2019 American Evolution Committee.

Dr. June Montgomery, Retired Professor of Education will address curriculum and lesson plan content development reflecting the Point Comfort narrative. The presentation will include methods of instruction, ideas for educational creative modalities for each grade level, and bridge content to help students understand the contemporary relatability of the narrative.

Participating elementary, middle and high school teachers represent multiple disciplines including History, Special Education, General Education, English and Language Arts, Music, Library Media and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The daily program takes place Monday through Thursday, 8:30 am – 1 pm at Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism. Recordings of each day’s educational content will be available to school systems throughout Virginia for edification beyond Hampton. 

Hampton, Virginia is the oldest, continuous English-speaking city in our nation, and many pivotal moments in American history occurred here. The Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission designated by Hampton City Council seeks to commemorate the 1619 landing of Africans at Point Comfort in English-occupied North America and to educate people about its role as a critical national turning point through programs, events, exhibits, and other opportunities for reflection. A highlight of the commemorative calendar is the August 23-25 First African Landing Commemoration at Fort Monroe and other sites throughout Hampton.