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First Africans in America
News Bytes 02/11/2019 21 Comments

Almost 400 years ago, the first Africans to arrive in North America were kidnapped and sent across the ocean aboard slave ships, then sold into bondage in Virginia. It’s a shameful part of American history—enslaving other people made in God’s image. Now the descendants of those early arrivals, along with historians and genealogists, are seeking recognition for a group of about 20 Africans they describe as critical to the survival of Jamestown, the first successful settlement in North America.

“We need to reclaim our history. We need to tell our story,” says Calvin Pearson, head of Project 1619, which is named after the year those first Africans landed in the New World.

A few historical markers and records mention these early slaves, but there’s been little research on their lives. Pearson and others are working to learn more.

Before the slaves arrived, Jamestown was starving. “Basically, all of those people were right off of the streets in England,” says author Kathryn Knight. The colonists “didn’t know how to grow anything. They didn’t know how to manage livestock,” she says. The Africans “saved them by being able to produce crops, by being able to manage the livestock. They kept them alive.”

For African-Americans, Jamestown “is the same thing as going to Plymouth Rock,” says historian Mark Summers, who works at the Historic Jamestowne (early spelling) park. “Here’s a place where you can stand and say, ‘We set foot here, and we can still walk this ground.’”

The first Africans were among more than 300 taken out of Angola, a Portuguese colony of mostly Catholic Africans. The ship was originally bound for Mexico but was captured and re-directed to Virginia. A 1620 census shows 17 African women and 15 African men in Jamestown.

Pearson, says, “From here, we see the beginnings of the Africa imprint on what would become the United States of America. It’s worth remembering.”

(Historic Jamestowne staff archaeologist Lee McBee displays artifacts as he talks with visitors at the dig site of a slave house in Jamestown. AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

yay. I got the 1st comment

STOP IT!!!

Would all of you just please stop the whole "First comment" thing; it is a waste of time, energy, and is just plain annoying!!!

bro, please.

Donovan, it's Erin. these comment sections are for the article,and I agree that the whole "first comment" thing is annoying. However, we need to comment on the actual subject.

4th Comment

Who cares if they want to get first comment it doesn't really matter everyone like get first comment.
But anyway, that so sad that America was doing human trafficking, the mistakes of our past. :(

5th comment

(yay, I got the 5th comment)

6th comment

Yeah, 6th comment. (just doing what everybody else is doing) Whoever writes the 7th comment follow along.

Also,

It's really cool that somebody would take the time to figure out where African Americans came from.

@David U.

guess who wrote the 7th comment and didn't say 7TH COMMENT!!!!! :p

WOW!!!

that is so cool!

10th comment

YES!!! I have never gotten tenth before! On a different note this is sad but this kinda of stuff is still going on with black people(even if there not slaves). People say that we've moved on but racism is still real. I think that both white people and black people have been racist to each other. First white people make rude comments then the blacks make an even more rude comment about how racist white people are and being racist at that moment and its a giant loophole in our society.

11th comment

hhhhmmmm

12

I GOT COMMENT NUMBER 12!!!!

#11

Anyway, why are we doing this # thing?

Oops!!

I ment #13 not11.

We learned about Jamestown in school.

PS.Im homschoold.

So sad!

No need to be rude about the First comment thing! I am so sad that the Americans enslaved innocent people...it's very racist.

#16

Yay!!! I got comment # 16

Sorry; I shouldn't have been

Sorry; I shouldn't have been that rude.

@AS

I don't think you were rude.

@Alyssa S

I totally didn't think you were rude! I thought you were funny! I thought Donovan E was rude!

It is so sad that we (as a

It is so sad that we (as a nation) used to keep slaves! Isn't it ironic (I think that that's the correct use of that word) that the people we (as a people) held as slaves were the ones who helped us survive?

Rebecca F.

Isn't it more like we were forcing them to help us survive?

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