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Hampton residents, descended from first enslaved Africans in English North America, visit ancestor's birthplace

Members of the Tucker family of Hampton were invited to come to Angola by the country's president.

HAMPTON, Va. — Author's note: The video above first aired on Dec. 10, 2021.

It was a trip of a lifetime. 

Vincent Tucker, president of the William Tucker 1624 Society, and his sister, Wanda, recently returned to Virginia from a five-day visit to Angola, Africa; a trip they took at the invitation of the country's president, João Lourenco.

The Tuckers are believed to be descendants of two of the first enslaved Africans to land in English North America at Point Comfort in 1619, which is in present-day Hampton, Virginia.

Angola is the country those African slaves came from.

"My mind began to bring everything together," Vincent Tucker said. "The stories I've been hearing, they started coming alive."

From the moment they landed, the Tuckers said they were treated like celebrities, surrounded by media at every stop. 

The trip came months after President Lourenco visited Washington D.C. and toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. He met the Tuckers there and promised to host them in Angola.

"We showed up, we talked and he said, 'I'm going to invite you to Africa,'" Vincent recalled.

Credit: Vincent Tucker
(l to r) Wanda Tucker, President Lourenco, Vincent Tucker and Carolita Jones-Cope in Angola

For years, the Tuckers have researched the landing of the "20 and Odd" Africans in Hampton, Virginia in 1619. They were captured off the San Juan Bautistaa Portuguese slave ship, by British pirates on board the White Lion. 

Two of the slaves on that ship, Anthony and Isabella, eventually lived in the household of Captain William Tucker in Hampton.  

This was Wanda Tucker's second visit to the country and she was anxious to show her brother and cousin the Sao Miguel museum's exhibit on the history of Queen Nzinga, a fierce leader who challenged the Portuguese rule in the 1600s and the slave trade. 

Perhaps the most emotional moment came when the Tuckers dipped their feet in the Kwanza river, which served as an access point for slave ships on their way to the port of Luanda.

"We can just imagine how that journey was for the enslaved -- taken down to the river and being hauled away. It was very touching," said Vincent. 

The trip was as much about looking forward as it was to look back. 

The Tuckers said people in both the United States and Angola are still learning the history of 1619 and its impact on life today. The hope is to build partnerships between the countries, both educationally and economically.

"There're so many missing pieces on both continents," said Wanda. "I feel empowered to identify myself as Angolan-American now because I know where my family came from, and that's powerful."