Aired: May 25, 2018

1619, Past and Present

The ruins of an original Jamestown colony building. Image credit: Ken Lund. Licensed by CC by 2.0.

  • The Real Founding (13 min.)

    With: Cassandra Newby-Alexander (Norfolk State University)

    Nearly 400 years ago, in 1619, the first Africans arrived in English-speaking North America. Cassandra Newby-Alexander explores how we should commemorate that history– and what’s at stake when we ignore it.   

  • Profiting from Immorality (14 min.)

    With: Richard Chew (Virginia State University)

    Slavery was a moral ill. It was also a complex transnational economy, in which European heads of state, planters, and businesspeople pursued the institution as a form of security and profit. Richard Chew explains how capital expansion– and a British king’s fear of being beheaded– impacted the growth of slavery in the US colonies.

  • Making Stories of Slavery (13 min.)

    With: Stephen Hanna (University of Mary Washington)

    Plantations in America’s South are physical testaments to the great wealth accrued through slave labor. Stephen Hanna says plantation museums often gloss over that economic history in favor of more romanticized depictions of plantation life.

  • Teaching Slavery and Emancipation (12 min.)

    With: Gabriel Reich (Virginia Commonwealth University)

    There’s little historical evidence that African Americans supported the Confederate cause by becoming soldiers. Yet this myth of the “black Confederate” remains in circulation. Gabriel Reich studies the way collective memories of the Civil War are shaped and offers ways school curricula could address these problematic narratives.

  • “A Physical Place I Could Feel Rooted In”: A Virtual Tour of a Slave Dwelling

    Justin Reid’s great-great grandfather Reverend Jacob Randolph Sr., who was enslaved at Ampthill Plantation as a child

    James Madison’s Montpelier recently hosted a National Summit on Slavery. They convened scholars, museum professionals, and members of descendant communities to talk about how historic sites can change the way slavery is taught and understood in America.

    One of the people at the Montpelier summit was Justin Reid, Director of African American Programs at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, who in 2014 set out to find the Virginia plantation where his ancestors had been enslaved. And he found it.

    “I remember as I was looking around, I was standing between the kitchen slave quarter and the main house, like kinda towards the back,” says Reid. “It just came out of nowhere—it was a shock, right—when you have a rush of emotion you don’t expect. It wasn’t this gradual sense of sadness. It wasn’t a sadness, it wasn’t anger, but it was this overwhelming sense of completion. I set out on this journey and I’m here.”

    Justin recently worked with our colleagues at Encyclopedia Virginia to take 360-degree imagery of a slave dwelling at Ampthill.  

  • 1619 Feature

    Until recently, not much was known about the first Africans to be sold as slaves in America.  Today, scholars are learning unexpected things about the lives of these first 20 or so Africans who reached VA shores in 1619.  Allison Quantz has more


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