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Hampton descendants of first enslaved Africans commemorate 1619

The Tucker family and friends gathered at the Tucker Family Cemetery in Hampton to honor their ancestors.

HAMPTON, Va. — Hampton's Tucker family is commemorating the landing of the first Africans to English North America in 1619.

More than 100 family, friends and local dignitaries gathered at the Tucker Family Cemetery in Historic Aberdeen Gardens in Hampton for a commemoration ceremony Friday morning.

The Tuckers are believed to be the descendants of two of the Africans, Anthony and Isabella Tucker, who arrived on the ship the White Lion in late August 403 years ago to Point Comfort, present-day Fort Monroe.

"This commemoration is very special because it does a deep dive into our history and our culture and we just want people to understand that we can never forget our history," said Vincent Tucker, president of the William Tucker 1624 Society.

Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck told the crowd that the 1619 and Tucker family story have prompted many African Americans to research their own genealogy. 

"It was part of you knowing your roots and where you came from that so many other African Americans in the United States felt this need to try and find out about our own beginnings," Mayor Tuck said.

Remarks were given by Superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument Eola Dance and Superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park Jerri Marr.

The event kicks off a weekend of commemoration festivities in Hampton, marking the global significance of the Africans' landing. 

Weekend events include:  

Recognition and Commitment Ceremony 
Saturday, August 27 at 10 am
Future site of the African Landing Memorial, Fort Monroe Continental Park

Virginia Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears will give remarks. Granite stones from the fortress walls have been set as temporary benches and a “Line to Angola” will be in the landscape.

First Enslaved African Landing Ceremony 
Saturday, August 27 11 am 
Fort Monroe Continental Park

Featured keynote speaker Professor and Civil Rights Attorney Dr. Gloria J. Browne-Marshall. Marshall teaches classes in Constitutional Law, Race and the Law, Evidence, and Gender and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)and has litigated cases for Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. There will also be a bell ringing ceremony at 12 noon and African dance, drum performances and flower processional. This program will also be live-streamed at fortmonroe.org.

Evolution of Freedom Concert
Saturday, August 27 2:30 pm
Fort Monroe Continental Park

The concert will feature Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. Delfeayo Marsalis has dedicated his prolific career to music theater and education. Along with the Marsalis family of musicians including his late father Ellis, the artist was destined to a life in music.

Healing Day
Sunday, August 28.
Outlook Beach at Fort Monroe

The programming includes: at 6 a.m. the Naming and Cleansing Ceremony at Outlook Beach, at 8:30 a.m. 3.1 Mile Walk/Run for Healing starting at Outlook Beach and 10:30 a.m. Public Drum Circle and Time of Reflection. At 5 pm there will be a Virtual Restorative Yoga and Meditation with Kleidi Jeen, register for ALD Embodied Yoga here.

The 1619 Commemoration of the First Enslaved African Landing program, Evolution of Freedom concert and Healing Day activities are free and open to the public. For more information visit Fortmonroe.org.

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