tv 400th Anniversary Ceremony - First Africans in Virginia CSPAN August 24, 2019 9:24am-11:58am EDT
commemorating 400 years of african and african-american perseverance in american society, enslavement, oppression from our understanding of the american story, and we would begin to recognize it and also commemorate those individuals who survived a very, very treacherous period in american history. host: professor, author, and dean, cassandra newby-alexander, thank you for being with us. guest: thank you. host: and a reminder for those watching a c-span3's american history tv, live coverage getting underway in just a moment, the ceremony that will include the dedication of the fort monroe visitor and education center. among those on hand to speak, virginia governor ralph northam along
[applause] >> please take your seats. the morning and welcome to 400th anniversary commemorative ceremony. it is my honor to welcome the lady, thend the first lieutenant governor justin fairfax, the attorney general, senator mark warner, and senator tim kaine. scottepresentative bobby and a representative from virginia. bass andative karen from missouri. speaker of the house of for thes, first counsel embassy of wanda. ,he former virginia governor the former virginia governor robert mcdonald, the former missouri governor greitens,
former representatives james payne, members of the governors cabinet, members of the virginia general assembly, including senate ,ajority leader thomas norment portsmouth mayor john wrote, the members of the 400 years african american history federal museum, deputy assistant secretary of fish and wildlife parks, national parks service officials, including daniel lla,h and david ve members of the hampton city council and other special guests. on behalf of the members of the hampton city council, our city staff, and the residents of this great city, it is my honor to welcome you to old point
comfort, freedoms fortress, fort monroe, and now fort monroe national monument in hampton, virginia. [applause] hamptons is a historic old.that is 409 years i often tell visitors we don't look that old because we have burned to the ground at least twice. from almost its beginning, hampton has been a multiethnic and multicultural city, a model for our nation and the world. at its founding, there were two ethnicities and cultures here in hampton, the english colonists and the indians. nine years later, a third ethnicity and culture were introduced, that of africans.
1619, thegust of white lion arrived at court comfort with cargo it had captured in an attack on a spanish slave ship. the virginia colony secretary meters were traded for food and supplies. among those first documented africans to be brought to the colony were anthony and isabella. 1624,ere married, and in it is believed they gave birth to the first african child born in america. they named him william tucker. the descendents of anthony and isabella, the tucker family, are with us this morning. this weekend's 400 year
anniversary commemoration event began with yesterday's ceremony at the tucker family cemetery eight miles northwest of your. another african-american family that is here today can trace its rates to charles city in the mid-1600s. acknowledge the agencies that have planned and executed not just this weekend's commemoration events, but speakers, symposiums, panel discussions, cultural events, and educational seminars over the last three years. these are the hampton 2019 commemoration commission, incorporated, before monroe authority, the monument,e national and the 400 years of african-american history federal
commission. i would like to recognize kalvin pearson and project 1619. [applause] story of telling the in first african's arrival hampton, not jamestown. [cheers and applause] eventsrican lending annually since august 2008, in closing researchers and historians tell us that more than 12 million individuals were taken from the african continent during the atlantic slave trade. between 380000 and 400,000 were brought to the shores of america. thoseor and salute individuals.
, whomy own ancestors because of their strength, determination, endurance, perseverance, and resilience survived the capture and months long transport through the middle passage and endeared dehumanization, brutality, and atrocity. chapterw from hebrews, 11, all these people died having faith. they did not receive the faith that god had promised them come but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. they acknowledged they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. today i can imagine that as our ancestors are looking over the andlements of glory beholding congressional representatives, a lieutenant governor, a state senator, and a mayor who are all
african-american, their hearts must be overflowing with joy. [applause] >> please welcome the honorable james t moran junior, former congressman from the sixth congressional district of virginia. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. nice job. i was revising my remarks as you were speaking since you told some of the best stories, but you did it more articulately than i would have. as chairman of the fort monroe authority over the last three years or so, there are several people that deserve to be recognized. i want to make some what i hope are substantive remarks.
all, and i appreciate your listing so many of them. that does save us a little time. there are a few people i want to give a shout out to. i want to recognize governor ralph northam. i would like to thank him for all the efforts and achievements that he has made in the pursuit of racial justice and reconciliation. [applause] just as an example that some of you may not be aware of, a number of us on the authority have had a major problem with an arch that exists down the street called the jefferson davis memorial arch. historic,ignated as although anything that is more recent than i am is really not historic.
it was put up in the 1950's. byeliberate act of defiance the daughters of the confederacy. before we hadown this commemoration today. used his power to come down one morning and took every one of those letters off of that arch, and if any of you want to see the letters, they are in the museum someplace, and help yourself to read them, but it did not belong here. to call out some governors andr senators, mark warner and tim kaine, have done such a terrific
job, a couple of other friends in congress, bobby scott, represents this area, as does the elaine luria. bobby is chair of the education and labor committee. you toass, so good of come to this. she is the chair of the congressional black caucus at the national level. she is also chair of the africa subcommittee of the foreign affairs committee. let me mention some of the members of the for bone marrow -- fort monroe authority. they have been wonderful. state secretary brian vall, matt lark.ler, senator meme
doesn't she look resplendent today? mary bunting is on the authority. she is the city manager of hampton. had aeck zealous, who major role in the establishment of the national exam of african-american history. need tongle one of you go through that museum if you have not. we are every day making a closer connection with that museum. dr. hairs. i don't know if any of you have watched the public broadcasting heies on reconstruction, but is continually interviewed, and he does such a terrific job. i have listened to him two or three times and i have thought i know that guy. he has done a great job. thank you. dr. marine is a professor at
hampton university. is currently serving as vice chair of the authority. colin campbell is the vice chair. he is recovering a little bit right now. he has been terrific as well. balls the brother of molly who was secretary of natural resources and was instrumental in much of the direction we have taken. i want to recognize clark mercy. he has done such a great job. he is chief of staff to the governor. he has been directly involved. i'm going to come across a number of people. i see attorney general mark herring. vice lieutenant governor is here. all those folks will have an opportunity to speak very the
fort monroe foundation have raised money for the business center. everyone of you should go through that business center. it is phenomenal day, it's that have been made to put -- phenomenal day compliments that have been made -- phenomenal the accomplishments that have been ofe in such a short period time. thank you, jack. , jane, and let , who ison glenn odor the executive director of fort .onroe i cannot imagine the number of people he and his wife mary have if notined on a weekly daily basis.
there are so many people that deserve recognition. i'm going to make a few comments so we do not get too far off our schedule. this is an historic place. ago some of the most important decisions that shape our nations future began to be made here. first we pay respects to the native peoples who lived full lives for many generations well before the first english settlers arrived. we also pay respects to those first english settlers, many of whom did not survive. those english settlers carried with them a strong desire for freedom and a better life than the one they knew in their first homeland in europe. paradox address the that a land settled right here
in the name of freedom was also solely at the expense of freedom. recognize the first enslaved africans were brought ashore to the english colonies in the americas. brought here in comfortto old point where they were treated for provisions. for provisions. english settlers, including the first governor who made one of those trades for a couple of those folks, they decided to indenturedhem as servants, ultimately to be used as slaves. it is this contradiction, this first immoral decision that
determined who we virginians became. slaveholders for two and a half centuries. the fact that a virginian who became governor and then our third president wrote our bill of rights declaring all people to be equal with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a contradiction that undergirds and compromises the america most of us still want us to be, a commonwealth of people who believe in the promise of freedom, justice, and equality for all people. 1861, at the start of the extraordinarily brave enslaved lack men, their
names frank banker, james townsend, and shepherd mallory, they sought refuge here by by theinto the fort cover of night. the federal commander, benjamin butler, remember that name. he is quite an historic figure. he decided not to return those men as fugitive slaves. but to protect them by declaring them contraband of war. them from the ownership of their masters. their masters tried to get them. he explained that you seceded from the union. you are using these men to build fortifications for the confederacy. this is contraband. as the word of that decision went viral by word-of-mouth, the
brave act of these three men set off in a norma's reaction. of manyered a migration more tens of thousands of enslaved people to seek refuge. their passion for freedom combined with commander butlers shrewd yet honorable respect for justice created the movement that would ultimately undermine the institution of slavery and preservation the of the united states of america, a similar nation willing to fight a bloody, brutal, civil war to enable the emancipation of all of its people. it all happened here at what is now celebrated as freedom's fortress. place where the first enslaved africans were brought to north america in the
first concert grands found declared a national historic place by the first african-american president of america, barack obama. he served his country honorably and competently. we have come a long way. we still have a long way to go to achieve true equality of opportunity, to overcome the residual effects of slavery and jim crow and systemic racial discrimination. the american middle class was formed from the immigrant working-class who successfully defeated the forces of not seize him, fascism, and right-wing nationalists who had taken
control of europe in the 1940's. for those working-class americans who fought and won except for the black soldiers who had fought at least as valiantly but were excluded from those benefits. today, more than a third of african-american children are living in poverty. the net worth of white families is 10 times that of black families. much of it due to the comparative difficulty black families have securing a home mortgage. prison sentences for the same crime are on average 20% longer for black men.
bobby scott knows that so well. a job applicant in the u.s. with a white sounding name is 50% more likely to get a call back from a perspective employer. i could go on and on with these examples of modern-day discrimination. i am not going to do that. i mentioned some of these facts because this should be more than a day to commemorate. it also must be a day to recommit to being one nation, true to our values, our ideals and aspirations. we are a great nation, a diverse nation. made of the survivors of a genocide against its first inhabitants, made of immigrants who came to this country, mostly from europe, prepared to hinder discrimination -- and your
discrimination, but who believed that this was a country that prejudices,me those and a country that is made up of the descendents of people who were brought in bondage, held as property, treated as subhuman, triumphpersevered, will , are proving their value and humanity every day, and who will help lead this country out of its ignorance and bigotry and selfishness to a future based on truth and justice and unity. ladies and gentlemen, the courage to accept the truth gives us the strength to pursue justice. what oure believe founding fathers understood, e
pluribus unum. that is a phrase on our currency and monuments. it is etched into our national soul. out of the many, there will .merge one nation out of the many, there will emerge one nation. ast nation is destined to be good as it is great. thank you all very much. [applause] >> serving as the cochair of the 2019 commemoration, please welcome speaker of the virginia house of delegates the honorable kirkland cox. >> thank you. good morning. americanr of the 2019 evolution commemoration, it is my honor to welcome you today. let me begin by thanking the cochair of our first
african-american to north american english committee. sandra will stand. she is right here. jackie stone, who is right here. i want to thank jackie. and the entire committee for their leadership and guidance. and one other introduction, the general assembly, who i think has done a yeoman's job helping with this commemoration. i will ask that all the members here please stand. [applause] a few weeks ago, we commemorated
the 400th anniversary of the new worlds first representative assembly. it was a moment where the of remembrance not only for what began, but how far we have come in the 400 years since. certainly the same is true of this anniversary. we commemorate for centuries of african-american contributions that have enriched our commonwealth and country to shape the america we know today. we also note the unspeakable tragedy and awful injustice that marked that beginning. as i said at jamestown last of the161970 beginning highs of america but also the lows of america. today to acknowledge the lowest of lows, the forced arrival of africans to english north america on these very shores, which tragically was the genesis, the shameful evil that
became systematic enslavement based on race. this occasion will challenge us to seek a deeper understanding of our history and also our future. the history is all too real. from the shores, the slave theion blocks of richmond, original sin of slavery left a permanent stain on our commonwealth. 20 enslaved people that came ashore at point comfort, virginia's enslaved population 1860, theh 500,000 by highest of any state in the union. from these shores to slave auction blocks up and down our thet to the plantations, original sin of slavery left an indelible scar on our nation.
from the 20 enslaved people that came ashore here, enslaved by permission of the u.s. reached 3 1860.n 950,000 by no match for the perseverance, fortitude of these enslaved community. no match for the righteous resolve to abolish this evil institution. as strong as the chains of slavery were, they were no match for the human spirit, no match for the ideals of freedom and equality. demanding a more perfect union applied to all americans, not just some americans. african-americans have overcome the legacy of those chains to leave indelible and positive marks on our commonwealth and nation.
today we celebrate those contributions, especially the achievements of so many outstanding virginians to shape the america we know today. in and women of achievement industries as diverse as our nation. role models for all americans, like booker t. washington and dred scott and mary elizabeth hauser, doug wilder and henry marsh. henrietta lacks and mary jackson, barbara johns and so many more whose stories we recall this weekend. each of these people has a story of great achievement, overcoming adversity, blazing trails and opening doors. arer individual stories part of this epic story that bring us here today. the story that began that point comfort and saw a nation and people in civil war and
reconstruction, through jim crow and the civil rights movement to where we are today and what we hope to become tomorrow. as we gather, the future is in our hands. what will we do to shape and mold the future of virginia? today we will hear perspectives, viewpoints, histories and more that are part of a much needed , one where american evolution has worked diligently to foster this commemoration. hopefully that dialogue will allow us to go from contradiction to reconciliation, from the sins of the past to a brighter future and a more perfect commonwealth as part of a more perfect union. we know our history does not always live up to our ideals. we also know our future can. with god's help it will. thank you.
>> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. >> please remain standing as we welcome ms. chelsea griffin, vocalist and songwriter from hampton, virginia, who will perform the national anthem.
[cheers] please remain standing for the invitation authored by dr. joseph green jr., pastor and cofounder of the antioch assembly in pennsylvania, and chairman of the 400 years of african-american coalition. >> good morning. it is a privilege to be here before you on behalf of the 400 year african-american history commission. all the commissioners have one of these very beautiful pieces of garment that was custom-made in ghana and sent to us, so we are very appreciative of that. on behalf of my family, my wife,
mother, my daughter, and my granddaughter -- and the reason i mention eden is because we are here today to honor our ancestors. we are also here to write a new history for our children's children. [applause] dr. green: yesterday i was at the tucker family memorial, and i was so taken by the heaviness and the weightiness of that. it was such an honorable occasion, and i appreciate you for sharing. but they seem scripture that came to my mind while i was at the tucker family cemetery is the same scripture i think is appropriate for today, so as we invoke the lord's presence in these events, i would have you turn -- well, you don't have to turn to your bibles. i will just read it for you. [laughter] dr. green: my preacher kicked in
just now. turn to your neighbor and say he's going to preach this morning. " thenk of joshua, 4:4, joshua called a man from each tribe and said to them, pass on before the ark of the lord your god in the midst of jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder according to the number of the tribes of the people of israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, what do those stones mean to you? you shall tell them that the waters of the jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the lord when it passed over the jordan. the waters of the jordan were cut off, so these stones shall be to the people of israel a memorial forever." let us pray. heavenly father, we come here today to honor a sort of memorial stone.
we come here to acknowledge our passage here to this land. although the conditions were not good and the track was treacherous, you sustained us. you kept us. the journey has been rocky and there have been many dark days, but you were with us. we thank you today father, that we did not come here to celebrate this past, but to commemorate your faithfulness. we come here to honor your strong right hand that watched over us. through our tears and fears, we knew that we would survive, so we celebrate the god of abraham, isaac and jacob, the god of our fathers. celebrate our fathers that believed for it they could not see. we look at the past four a means of hope for the future. as you were with moses and joshua, we know you will are with us. we come to you with the unwavering will of our fathers, who bent, but did not break. we know the strength come of the will and fortitude flows through our veins. seekersve forward, we
-- we seek your peace and comfort, and know that the possibilities are endless. the oath conferred is not yet destroyed. help us to love and to dream together. let us walk in forgiveness, love and unity. let us never waver. we speak your peace and your joy. we pray with expectation, and with the belief that our latter is much brighter than our former. we are here because we have the chance to write a new history, a history of hope, love and unity. we put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. let us never forget so that we don't repeat our mistakes. we forgive because we are forgiven, and we thank you for the great future that lies ahead of us. in the mighty and majestic name of jesus, we pray amen. >> amen. [applause] seated.ay be
please welcome the honorable timothy kaine, united states senator and former governor of virginia, two honors -- virginia, to offer special remarks. sen. kaine: good morning, friends. it is an honor to stand for you on such an important day. i want to thank all assembled, but particularly the federal far hundred years of african-american history commission. i played a role with congressman scott and senator warner and passing the federal legislation to recognize this momentous occasion, and i am deeply moved to be with you today. mean?oes this day in searching for a way to describe its significance, i didn't have the words, but i was drawn to the words of a wonderful virginian, oliver
ll, the pioneering civil rights attorney who i came to know when i was a young civil rights lawyer beginning my career in richmond 35 years ago. richmond in born in as virginia commemorated the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the english settlers at jamestown. he entered the world into an ironclad, segregated virginia that had just passed the past thetradition -- constitution to guarantee this cremation against all people of color. from the day of his burst -- passed the constitution to guarantee discrimination against all people of color. from the day of his birth, he as an elected official,
as a civil rabble-rouser, mr. hill helped win the brown v. board of education case, and was awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 1999. mr. hill lived an entire century, and lived to see a very different genia commemorate the 400th anniversary of the jamestown settlement in 2000 settlement -- in 2007. as governor, i made sure mr. hill got to meet queen elizabeth as she and prince philip visited the capital the week after he turned 100 years old. when mr. hill passed away three months after that visit, we honored him by having his body lay in state in the governor's mansion. [applause] the commonwealth that was set like a stone
against him at his birth accorded him its highest honors at his death. mr. hill grappled with the significance of 1619. in fact, he organized the symposium in jamestown 50 years 1969, to grapple with what we are grappling with today, the monstrous tragedy of slavery and its deep and lasting consequences. mr. hill wrote an autobiography into thousand, and chose a very unusual title. the autobiography is called, "the big bang." was the's theme evolution of mankind and the need for a continuing american evolution. i can think of no better way than to describe the significance of the african slaves at point comfort in august, 1619. it was the big bang.
in physics, the big bang is posited as the violent event that began the universe. with massive consequences that still linger. it was a starting point, but the process commenced with the big bang is not yet complete. the birth of slavery in our , both was equally violent at its start and for the next 246 years, and its debilitating consequences linger in our collective soul. ed occurred precisely at the same time as the birth of legislative democracy in our nation, so beginning in 1619, virginia legislators and judges help build a legal architecture enshrining slavery on our shore, virginian -- just as the virginian proudly proclaimed the truth that all people are
created equal. this dualism of high-minded principle and indescribable cruelty has defined us, and the our principal and the prejudice that we still cling to continues to define us. we cannot tell the story of our nation without speaking about its indigenous peoples. we cannot tell the story of our nation without speaking about its immigrant character, as drawn from the experiences of spanish settlers of 1565, english settlers of 1607, french settlers of 1608, and the waves of others who freely arrived in their appointed time from all corners of the world. but neither the indigenous nor the immigrant story is the full story of america today. when the first africans arrived into the english new world in
acres, ourse very nation now contains the powerful combination of indigenous indigenous, immigrant, and enslaved. began the bigre bang creating america as we know it today. i want to close with a feeling that i have a very hard time putting into words. the transatlantic slave trade was one of the most cruel atrocities ever perpetrated by humankind. [applause] yet, and yet,d how fortunate we are as a country that the descendents of that cruel institution, those american slaves and all who followed, are still here and part of our country.
it is impossible to imagine an america without the courage and the spirit and the accomplishment of the african diaspora. [cheers and applause] sen. kaine: america would be so much poorer without our african roots. to say that mean monstrous tragedy in the passage the seeds ofow great beauty? and so we gather here, 400 years later, in a nation of resilient indigenous people who still face mighty struggles, in a country of immigrants who too often face shouts to go back for they came from -- go back where they came from, where the burden of slavery and discrimination still
act as a shackle burdening african-americans, and were faced with the conflict between our high-minded principles and the realities that we sinful humans often accept or even perpetrate. forward? we move mr. hill concluded the big bang -- concluded "the big bang" with this quote. our problems stem from several inadequacies. one is a lack of understanding of evolution and the inevitability of change. instead of opposing change, we should try to directly change in a constructive direction." [applause] sen. kaine: the second inadequacy he talked about is this. "the second is the lack of a model for the type of environment we need for a truly civilized society. we need to work assiduously to
correct this defect." one way to do that is to promote in the 21st century a renaissance in human relationships. he concluded his autobiography now.""that's where i am i hope that's where we are now. it is on each of us to understand our nations history, and as mr. hill said, direct the change towards a better future. we can't do it silently. we can't do it from the sidelines. let's honor our african roots by finally living up to the ideal come the american ideal, that we are all created equal, and that we all deserve to live free. thank you. [applause] >> please welcome the honorable mark warner, united states senator and former governor of
virginia, to offer special remarks. [applause] sen. warner: good morning. it is a real honor for me to join so many friends on this platform and so many friends in commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first african landing. i think as other speakers have already mentioned, this tomemoration challenges us reject the simplistic versions of our history, and quite honestly, confront the complicated truth. is truth is our commonwealth both the birthplace of representative democracy and of american slavery. constitution enshrined both the ideals of liberty and justice, as well as
america's original sin. frederick douglass spoke about this contradiction a few weeks after the dred scott decision. slaverythat american endured not because of any paper constitution, but in the moral of the american people. now, in the programs over this weekend, we remember the first landings of enslaved africans. we come face-to-face with that moral blindness that existed not 1776, but19 or in unfortunately even today. the truth is our founders' idea of representative democracy did
not include looking at this audience, most of you who are sitting out here today, but if they knew that the descendents of the people america had enslaved would one day be free, and that they would challenge our nation to finally live up to well, thatg ideals, might give us all a little bit of comfort. we honor the heroes of that struggle today. today, as struggle well as the men woman who are lost to history. we recognize -- the men and women who are lost to history. we recognize that 1619 marked the first chapter in the 400 year history of african-american history. that african-american history is absolutely central and essential to both the history of virginia
and the history of our country. [applause] sen. warner: finally, what we do here today is a recognition that is long overdue. tim made mention of some of the time when he was governor. i remember when i was governor, and my youngest daughter was at that point in second grade, walking around capitol square with my wife. capitol square is kind of the front yard for any of us who had the honor to live in the governor's mansion. as my daughter walked around, looking at all these statues -- and this was not 200 years ago, 100 years ago -- this was 21st and she said, where is the statue of rosa parks? andife lisa but quickly said, well, rosa parks is not from virginia.
[laughter] but capitol square, , the02, the only memorial only statues were of dead white men, and the majority of them confederates. not 1960's. that's not 1770's. that's not 1619. that's 2002. so with senator henry marsh, we set about and built the virginia civil rights memorial. when it was unveiled in 2008, it was a historic occasion, but also fairly bittersweet. the truth is it shouldn't have taken more than 50 years to johns in capital square. [applause] sen. warner: but it is also
people to -- it is also equally true that there should never have been an occasion where barbara johns had to walk out of a dilapidated high school to ask for equal rights in virginia. [applause] sen. warner: it is a reminder that no monument or no legislation or no court case kenny race the stain of slavery. -- court case can erase the stain of slavery. it will never be that easy. american democracy for all men and women entitled to equal citizenship is actually a very recent creation. as others have mentioned as well, it was in our commonwealth where, and places like prince edward county, communities shut down their schools rather than be integrated during massive resistance. we have made progress as a nation, but the progress is
incomplete, and that progress will only endure as long as all of us remain committed to both defending it and promoting it. [applause] sen. warner: two years ago, in a country and a commonwealth where we thought we had made so much progress, we saw violent forces of hate and\displayed -- hate and backlash displayed in charlottesville. this had a lot of us asking, is this who we are? well, that history confronts us today, and reminds us that the answer is complicated. but one answer is absolutely true. what happened in charlottesville is not who we should be. [applause] sen. warner: and i believe all have a morals
responsibility to speak up and demand america deliver on its promise of liberty and justice for all. int's why this commemoration the national conversation is fostering -- conversation it's fostering is so important. if we are going to be a country that truly lives up to our founding principles, we need to tell the whole truth about our history, the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly as well. [applause] sen. warner: so as we mark this commemoration of the first african landing, it is my hope that this will be a moment to both comfort the afflicted, but also afflict the comfortable. thank you so much for letting me be part of this important ceremony today. thank you. [applause] to share special remarks, please welcome the honorable
united states house of representatives for the 37th congressional district of california and chair of the .ongressional black caucus >> good morning, everyone. want to thank the people of virginia to organize a series of events to commemorate the arrival of enslaved africans. i want to thank all of the community and elected leaders here for the invitation to perhaps abate on behalf of the 55 never strong congressional black caucus. number ofe largest african-americans ever elected to congress, and in congress, cbc embers hold major positions of leadership and havoc on list significant change -- and have accomplished significant change. the most significant victories of the year with a call list by
your own representative bobby scott -- [applause] he is the chair of one of the most important committees in congress, the committee governing the nation's education system. he led and is leading the effort to raise the nation's national minimum wage. [applause] let me acknowledge another member of the congressional black caucus who is in the audience with us today, representative lacy clay from the great state of missouri. [applause] today we commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of africans, but earlier this month, a delegation of numbers of the congressional black caucus led by speaker nancy pelosi traveled to ghana, west africa to pay homage to our ancestors and visit where they
were held captive before they began that horror filled journey. before they were captured, they lived in villages with sophisticated levels of organization. many were skilled craftsmen, farmers, healers, and leaders. they were first taken from villages and forced to walk hundreds of miles to dungeons. our delegation visited these dungeons that looks like the old european forts, and in many parts of the world. , ironically,sited are in a beautiful part of the country right on the beach. it was a solemn and emotional experience to enter the dungeon, to close our eyes and imagine what our ancestors experienced. faceded challenge we all was the mystery of knowing that our ancestors were held captive there, but that we had no knowledge of who they were. captured africans were stripped
of their languages, ethnic identities, tribal and family ties. we saw the areas of the dungeons that were large enough to hold about 50 to 100 people, but where hundreds were held. rooms without sunlight, forced to lay in their own excrement, no access to water to bathe, only given enough food and water to keep them alive, but deliberately kept in a weakened state so they could not organize a resist -- organize or resist. those who did attempt to resist were mutilated, left in separate rooms, and slowly starved to death. females were routinely made to stand in line while their captors would choose one of them. she was then washed and lead up a staircase to a bedroom, where she was rape and then returned back. the men, women and children were held in the dungeons for months, awaiting the time they would be forced onto boats that would
begin a journey that would last for months. we seen the drawings of hundreds of people stuffed onto ships, and heard the stories of what happened on their journey, when individuals became too sick or died, or women to g -- or women but gave birth. they were forced overboard to the sharks that followed along. the rest were forced to live their lives as property. it is difficult to believe that this level of brutality lasted for hundreds of years and affected millions of african, but when we stood in the dungeons filled with sadness, our heads lowered, reliving or trying to imagine what they went time,h, at the very same we lifted our heads and our chests were filled with pride and amazement at the strength and resilience of our ancestors. [applause]
rep. bass: and here we are today on what can be described as hallowed ground in our nations history, but i would guess that most of the nation doesn't even know the story of the hallowed ground we stand on today. that we would arrive here first, and generations later would escape enslavement and seek protection right here. at the nation's first african-american president would this his first does nation for a national monument. [applause] years of: in spite of enslavement, there would be 57 african-americans in congress representing all of america. [applause]
rep. bass: i only wish the entire nation could witness what you are doing here today, the history of fort monroe, how you have honestly acknowledged all of our nation's history, not just the parts that make us feel good, but the difficult parts as well. i can't tell you what it feels like for me to sit here. this is my first time here, but the emotion i feel in listening to the speakers tell the truth. [applause] rep. bass: tell the truth. nation thing about our and why we continue to have the issues we do is because we have , andd part of our history i believe that if the entire nation could experience, could learn, and understand our true
and full history, we might not be witnessing the resurrection of hate. thank you so much for the honor of speaking here today. [cheers and applause] >> now, please welcome the honorable robert c. scott, united states house of for the thirds district of virginia. [applause] rep. scott: good morning. i'm honored to join all of you here on this historic and solemn day. i want to thank everyone here who made this commemoration possible and who traveled with us today, especially my distinguished colleague from california, karen bass. [applause]
rep. scott: you can't imagine the ones that came here -- the ones that came here 400 years ago could not imagine us speaking in recognition of this day, so i want to give karen bass another round of applause for being with us today. [applause] rep. scott: i also want to welcome the commissioners from the 400 years of african-american history commission. senator kaine was very generous in giving everybody credit but himself. of course, it was his vision and leadership that created this commission. give senator kaine another round of applause. [applause] slavery first arrived on our shores at 400 years ago. the forced labor of enslaved africans and their descendents built this great nation and is
part of our complicated history, with which we continue to wrestle. over the past 400 years, descendents and others who have followed the first 20 and odd africans have made significant contributions to all aspects of american history. as we continue to work in addressing inequality and education, incarceration and criminal justice, income inequality and tax and voting rights, we also pause to celebrate the incredible resiliency of those africans and their descendents. it is in that spirit that i've been asked to discuss one individual whose fight for justice has much to teach us today. when i'm introduced at public gatherings, it is often mentioned i am the first african-american to represent virginia in the u.s. house of representatives since reconstruction. [cheers and applause] rep. scott: and only the second in the history of the commonwealth.
the first was john mercer langston, who, after successfully contesting his election in 1988, was finally seated as a representative in , 103 years before i began my first term in congress. that would not have been possible if it had not been for those who fought to pave the way. the first black senators and likesentatives elected langston, after the war and during reconstruction, as well as those who put their lives on the line to advance civil rights and defend voting rights for african americans. but even before becoming virginia's first congressman, john mercer langston had already left a mark on our commonwealth and our nation as a student, abolitionist, patriot, lawyer, educator, diplomat, and public official. in 1829, langston was born a free man in louisa county
virginia, and later moved to ohio. hegston's brother insured received a good education, and graduated from oberlin college and became one of our nations first black attorneys and first black elected officials. he was the town clerk in ohio. as an abolitionist, langston risked his life to assist those escaping slavery along the underground railroad. as a patriot, he joined frederick douglass and other abolitionists to recruit black men to fight for the union and turn the tide of the civil war. as an educator, he helped establish howard universitys law school's howard university law school, the nation's first black -- howard university law school, the nation's first black law school. theston also served as first president of what today is
virginia state university in petersburg. [applause] rep. scott: langston was encouraged by both whites and blacks to run for the u.s. health -- the u.s. house of representatives in 1888. it was first thought that he lost, but he contested the results. he was eventually declared the winner, and he took his seat in 1890, only able to serve the few remaining months in his term. he lost his bid for reelection, but he had already left on indelible mark on the cost of freedom -- on the cause of freedom. a portrait of john mercer langston hangs in my office, a reminder of one of the visionary black americans whose dogged pursuit of equity hope shape a more perfect union. we may never know all of the names and stories of the men and woman who were brought here at point comfort in 1619, but as we them,er, mourn, and honor
let's also remember the trailblazers like john mercer langston, who believed in and fought for a nation to live up to its creed. i hope that reflect in on our nation's complicated history reminds us of our responsibility to work to achieve liberty and justice for all. thank you. [applause] the honorableome united sixa -- representative for the second district of virginia. >> good morning. 400 years ago, our commonwealth was the site of a pivotal historical first. we recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of the first legislative session in jamestown.
led to representative democracy in america and continues to influence our society for the better. history isn't all uplifting and convenient. in fact, it is messy and complicated. our past contains difficult truths that we must learn from so that we can be empowered and equipped to correct today's injustices. one of those difficult truths is that our commonwealth, specifically fort monroe, the land we are standing on now, is the site of where the first enslaved africans in british north america arrived 400 years ago. today we remember this history that continues to shape our nation. we also honor the bravery of those who escaped slavery here. ,rank baker, shepherd valerie
and james kelson, who paved the way for thousands more. as one of the several representatives here and have to and roads, i am proud that fort romo serves as a symbol of the courage and heroism that emerged from america's original sin of slavery. from a military community perspective, we know the fight for freedom is one that has been waged with great cost, including many thousands of african-americans from virginia who have contributed to the safety, security, and freedom of this nation. many came from or fought in hampton roads communities. we are reminded of men like william harvey carney, born into slavery in norfolk. mr. carney joined the union army during the civil war and made his mark during the 1863 assault on fort ragnar in charleston -- -- on fort wagoner in
charleston, south carolina. he raised the flag high and kept marching despite his own multiple wounds. he made his way back to the union side, never once dropping the flag. his actions were an inspiration to his fellow soldiers. carney had to mr. wait until 1900, 37 years, to receive recognition for his efforts. by then, other african-americans had received medals of honor, but because his actions had occurred first, mr. carney is considered to be the first african-american medal of honor recipient. [applause] rep. luria: african-americans who fought for american freedom must be remembered in part because they themselves were not free, nor did they benefit from the liberties given to other americans. clearly, their sacrifice went above and beyond.
" president obama once said, fort monroe played a role in some of the darkest and most heroic moments in american history. we have the power to transform symbols of injustice into .astions of hope and knowledge that's why fort monroe is" so important. as we listen to the compex history of our community, let us remember the past so we can pave the way for a brighter future. above all, let's recommit together towards a better america. thank you. [applause] please welcome to the podium, the 73rd governor of virginia, the honorable ralph northam. [applause]
--. northam please be seated gov. northam: please be seated. good morning. what a beautiful setting this is. i thank you for the privilege of speaking at fort monroe today. as a former member and vice chairman of the fort monroe authority, it is always a pleasure to be here at this site. thank you all for being here today to commemorate 400 years of american history. for those of you from out of state, welcome to virginia. [applause] to beortham: it's great here today with former governors, now senators mark warner and him gai -- and tim kaine.
i also want to recognize lieutenant governor justin fairfax, our attorney general, congressman scott, congresswoman lauria, members of our legislative black caucus, and other elected officials. i want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this commemoration a reality. fort monroe authority director glenn oden, fort monroe authority board of trustees jim moran, members of the fort monroe authority board, fort monroe national monument superintendent terry brand. [applause] gov. northam: the national park service, kathy spangler, nancy rodriguez, and the team from american evolution. [applause] gov. northam: i'd also like to thank the hampton 2019 commemorative commission for all the hard work they have done
around these events in their home cities. [applause] todayortham: we are here for a commemoration and a reckoning. time to reckon with , 400 years ago, enslaved africans arrived for the first time on virginia shores. livesou and me, they had familiesies, lives and they would never see again. jamestown ariver in few weeks earlier, white landowning men had come together to establish a system of representative government, but that system did not represent all of the people who arrived here at old point comfort.
people whose skin looks different than mine. that government did not represent them during 246 years of slavery. it did not represent them through nearly 100 years of reconstruction and jim crow terror and discrimination. it strugglesays, to represent them today. [applause] that is the truth. that is what we must reckon with as we move forward. full and true the story of the past 400 years? how do we do so with honor and dignity, for people whose honor and dignity was taken away from them? who should tell the story, and how do we learn from those
lessons as we move forward? wells wrote that, "the way to right wrongs is to turn the truth upon them." if we are going to begin to truly right the wrongs of our four centuries of hit sugary -- centuries of history, we have to start with ourselves. over the past several months, as i have met with people around the state and listened to their views on disparities and inequities that still exist today, i've had to confront some painful truths. was my own truths incomplete understanding regarding race and equity. i have learned a great deal from those discussions, and i have more to learn, but i've also
learned that the more i know, the more i can do. [applause] gov. northam: you see, for too long the burden has been on individuals and communities of color to lead these discussions, but if more of us have these hard conversations and truly listen and learn from them, we'll be better able to shine that light of truth. [applause] because the eyes can see what the mind doesn't know. we can start those conversations at places like this, fort monroe , the ground where the first enslaved africans landed. this is also the same ground where the end of slavery began. it was here where enslaved people sought refuge and were
decision that eventually led to emancipation. general butler's contraband decision has been hailed by ed ayers, a nationally known historian of the american south and a member of the port monroe authority -- the fort monroe as the greatest moment in african american history. [applause] gov. northam: virginia is the place where enslaved africans first landed, and where american representative democracy was born. virginia is the place where emancipation began in the confederate capital was located. virginia is the place where schools were closed under massive resistance rather than desegregate and allow black children to attend, and it is the state that elected the nation's first african-american governor. [applause]
virginia is a place of contradictions and complexity. we take a step forward, and often a step backward, and we have to acknowledge that. we have to teach that our complexity -- we have to teach that complicity to our children and often our adults. ar too often, we have told false story of ourselves. andstory is inefficient inadequate, especially when it comes to black and inadequate, especially when it comes to black history. we must remember that black history -- [applause] gov. northam: we must remove or that black history is american history. [applause] why myrtham: that's earlier today, i signed an executive directive to establish a commission on african-american
history education in our commonwealth. [applause] gov. northam: you all needed to stretch your legs a little bit, didn't you? [laughter] gov. northam: yes. but this commission will review our educational standards, instructional practices, content and resources currently used to teach african-american history and our commonwealth -- history in our commonwealth. we want to make sure our students develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the african-american voices that contribute to our story. but that is not the only thing that we can do. when we look back at events of
or 19 64, when the civil rights act was signed, we often look at them as history, frozen in time or locked in a book, relics of the past. we memorize dates, but not connections. we don't teach the themes that appear in our history over and over again. [applause] to. northam: we often fail draw the connecting lines from those past events to our present day, but to move forward, that is what we must do. racism andt discrimination aren't locked in the past. they weren't solved with the civil rights act. they didn't disappear. they merely evolved. they are still with us in the disparities we see in education
attainment and school suspension and neonatalrnal modality for black and white mothers, in our courts and prisons, and in our business practices. through 400 years of american history, starting with the enslavement of africans through jim crow, massive resistance and now mass incarceration, black oppression has always existed in this country, just in different forms. [applause] the legacy of racism continues not just in isolated incidents, but as part of a system that touches every person and every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not. and if we are serious about writing the wrong that began the wrongout righting that began here at this place, we need to do more than talk. we need to take action.
[applause] gov. northam: the commission i mentioned earlier is just one action. my administration is taking bold historicalght inequities in education, our health system, and access to business opportunities. [applause] gov. northam: we established a commission to examine racial inequities in virginia law. we have set a goal to eliminate racial disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality by 2025. [applause] gov. northam: i signed an executive order to advance women, minority, and veteran owned businesses, and we are working to reduce either evictions.to reduce a few years ago, i was here at fort monroe to announce the removal of letters from the arch that one celebrated -- that once
celebrated the president of the confederacy. jefferson davis was charged with treason and imprisoned here at fort monroe, a traitor to his country, and i believe it is no coincidence that in the same year that virginia and acted massive resistance -- virginia enacted massive resistance as official state policy, that arch went up in his honor. to have a monument glorifying a person who worked to maintain slavery, on the same site at which enslaved africans first arrived here and were later freed, is not just inappropriate. it is an offense -- it is offensive, and it is wrong. [cheers and applause] gov. northam: removing that monument is one way we can act to better tell the true story here in virginia, and i am pleased and proud to announce
today another important step in how we represent the full and true story of our commonwealth. requested in the general assembly agreed to allocate $500,000 toward the first african landing memorial art project here at fort monroe. [applause] gov. northam: since that time, the fort monroe authority and the virginia commission for the arts, in partnership with the national park service, the fort monroe foundation, and project 1619, led a national search for an artist who could create this memorial art project at old point comfort. that art project will be dedicated to the first landing of african people here on these shores. importantly, the artist will engage with the public to ensure that the community has the chance to express their opinion
on what this memorial project means to them and what experiences should be included in the design. i am delighted that the artist for the fort monroe african-american landing project is here with us today. please welcome mr. brian owens. would you please stand, sir? [applause] i look forward to seeing mr. owens' project and how it will contribute to this site and the telling of this important american story. on this very day last year, i was at the tucker family afterry, a cemetery named the first documented child of african dissent born in english-speaking -- child of t born inescen english-speaking north america. here in
1619. like too many african-american cemeteries, the tucker family secretary had fallen victim to neglect. tois also a testament revival and restoration. family members and interested groups are working to restore the cemetery and i want to recognize and thank the delicate -- delegate for work on this issue. [applause] in thattham: restoration work and in the events here this weekend, i see steps forward. i see is working to a knowledge the wrongs and the evils done in the past. and in the present. because while we cannot change the past, we can't use it and learn from it. -- can use it and learn from it.
as your governor, i will do more. [applause] gov. northam: as we reckon with the painful legacy of virginia's racist past and acknowledge that it continues to shape our present, we can and must continue to act to improve the future. tell ourll work to full and true story. that our job, all of us, make up this diverse society. to ensure that when the next generation looks back, a generation that is hopefully more inclusive than we have been, they see a more accurate narrative, one of the tells the truth and includes everyone. may god bless fort monroe, may god bless our commonwealth of
theinia, may god bless united states of america and may god bless all of you. thank you very much. [applause] >> due to a family illness, nikki giovanni is unable to be with us today. it to read her original helen for this occasion, please welcome jacqueline stone cochair of the american revolution first africans to english north america committee. [applause] a problem by nikki giovanni. 1619 jamestown but not only. an answer to the new york times. there may be a time limit but there is no time limit to change. cannot not will not change.
no matter what the color the people or the language they speak, no matter which god is served, no matter which food is eaten or forbidden, which clothes are worn or not, no matter the hair covered or shaved, no matter how we look at it, there have been slaves. every civilization or rather most reach a point where slavery is recognized as wrong or in some cases a bad idea. or perhaps more accurately those who used to sell slaves now no longer have the currency or the strength to control the lives of human beings so they create a lie for the same purpose. i often wondered when i think of the murder of jesus what he and simon talked about as simon gave jesus some relief with getting the cross to calvary. to whata bit of an idea
socrates was thinking as he drank hemlock. in our time, we know martin luther king wanted to hear music at dinner, played beautifully for me before the shots took his life. there would be many others who were hanged, beaten to death, fought in wars for the right or wrong side. i have wondered as a person living in virginia how the peanuts got here. we know europeans didn't go into communities to find west africans. africans did. we know when communities recognize defeat, they were lined up and brought to shore to be sold. grandmother trying andefend her grandson failing, reaching to put in his hand a peanut. don't forget me she says.
he hold tightly to what will be called america where he sold. he plants that charge for a promise to keep. he stays to watch it grow. others would escape and thank him cowardly but he had promises to keep. others did not understand the strength it takes to white slip from your hanging brother. to cradle your daughter after a rape. to lovingly put your wife into the ground. he had promises to keep. and he kept them. virginia is not the peanuts state. virginia is the state of promises. the only question is, will we keep them? [applause] >> sharing remarks from the
national parks service, please welcome the deputy director. [applause] good morning. speaker're the 11th following [laughter] these distinguished individuals [laughter] laureatepoor -- poet than a young man who will steal all of our hearts it is a rough assignment but as the deputy director of the national park service, i take that responsibility but i will try to be brief area. [laughter] welcome to all of you today who are distinguished guests. we are grateful for some money for helping to make for monroe one of the 419 national park units of the national park system. will recognize -- [applause] we recognize the important responsibility we have as
stewards of fort monroe national monument and its role in so many facets of our history. since the creation of the national park service in 1916, dutyears ago tomorrow, our has been to care for america's extraordinary places and the stories they harbor. certainly, many of our parks are beautiful landscapes. they are also places where challenging events took place. national parks provide spaces anddiscussion, reflection, our shared american narrative. as we are doing here at fort monroe today, tomorrow, and into the future. anniversary is a year-long commemoration and conservation conversation. to recognize the highlight of 400 years of african-american
history and a competence. of thek of the 400 years african-american history commission established by congress and signed into law by president trump last year is administered by the national park service. it will extend through july of 2020. civic, historical, educational, artistic, religious and other organizations are invited to coordinate and participate in activities designed to expand the collective understanding and appreciation of an african-american contribution to the american experience. tomorrow, national parks across the country will join with us here at for monroe as we ring bells to remember the africans who were brought here in bondage 400 years ago. [applause]
the generations of african-americans who struggled, overcame, and continue to strive for civil and social justice today. just imagine tomorrow at the statue of liberty at independence hall at acadia national park in maine, the everglades in florida, denali in alaska, and the uss arizona in most -- memorial and hawaii. king's national historic site in atlanta, at brown v. board of education, at ,uskegee national historic site at selma of birmingham, at harriet tubman and the underground railroad, all of us will be in spirit and in strength as we go sport -- forward.
[applause] we're grateful to our many partners who have made this weekend possible. including the commonwealth of virginia, american revolution 2019, the city of hampton, the grassroots organization projects 1619 and hampton roads community. authority, and the united states armed forces who are supporting this event. i would like all representatives of the national park service who are here to please stand briefly. [applause] i would like the superintendent to remain standing. [applause] this is a hallmark day for the
national park service. this is what our mission is about. of thethe superintendent for monroe national monument have brought us to this day and i commend you for your efforts and leadership to bring us to where we are today. i salute you, superintendent. [applause] [applause] he represents the best of the national park service and governor, i would like to say that the national park service accepts your challenge to tell the stories as we move toward the 250th anniversary of our declaration in 2026 and we tell the stories as you say we need
to help celebrate this occasion. [applause] when the first africans landed here at fort monroe 400 years ago, they may not have known how their sacrifices and contributions would help shape our community and nation. as the years and generations past, there are also local african-americans who continue to give contributions to society. johnson, atherine resident of hampton. [applause] mathematician who is known for calculating trajectories for many of nasa's crew missions.
we should also recognize mary jackson [applause] who in 1958 became nasa's first black female engineer. [applause] and who was born and educated right here in hampton, virginia. [applause] i am sure the first africans will be proud of their however, there is giveer way that we can all back to our community. with how wey start
treat one another. [applause] are you kind to others daily? about being talking kind to friends and family. to peoplebeing kind you barely know? or do not know at all. i want to share a personal story. year, my teacher was battling cancer so i wanted to do something to let her know she wasn't on this journey alone. others, ielp of collected 551 cards to encourage her and brighten her most
difficult days ahead. [applause] ways to shownd kindness to one another. openxample, hold the door for someone walking behind you. [applause] around with a smile on your face. [laughter] [applause] may brighten up someone else's day. elderly ando the disabled. [applause] country and others. during times of tragedy. create ways to volunteer and help others.
why do all of this you may ask? years of being on this earth [applause] i realize that my angelo's quote .s true she said people may not remember what you say or do but they never forget how you make them feel. [applause] imagine the problems that would be solved if all people were kind. it doesn't matter what your race or religion may be. we all deserve kindness. [applause]
we all should show kindness. years ofmemorate 400 the first africans landing here at fort monroe, let's make them proud. this is more than just a speech. [applause] [laughter] let the dayyou to also be a celebration. become aommitment to more caring and kind individual to all. thank you, and god bless you all. [applause] [applause]
and welcome to the second senate district. [applause] media arein the news to critically important institutions that have been involved in the freedom movement here in america. it is with great pride that i stand here today first, as an educator which was and is my role before i became a legislator. as a professor, i have long believed that knowledge is power. but also be productive destructive. when we educate ourselves with the truth and commit to living out their truth, we can change our communities for the better. as a student and product of the southern freedom movement, i know intimately that the truth shall indeed set us free. [applause]
as a legislator, i believe that establishing laws that are rooted in truth is caret -- crucial to guaranteeing him and justice for all. the responsibility of the general assembly is to confront these principles during each session and the news media is equally responsible. a guidingten been light to helping the legislative ranch of government achieve this important goal. president thomas jefferson was correct to champion the role of the press as a pillar of democracy. as an african-american, the news media particularly the black press has been vital to educating and inspiring african-americans to persevere toward freedom. from its very beginning, the black press advocated passionately for freedom, education, and self empowerment.
freedom journal, america's first black newspaper, launched with these powerful words. we wish to plead our own cause. too long have others spoken for us. too long has the public and deceived by misrepresentation. in things which concern us dearly. these words define the desire and willingness of black people to fight for their freedom. to determine their own fate. regarding the importance of education, freedom journal looked toward future generations of african-americans. the editorial continued and i again quote. education being an option of the highest importance to the welfare of society, we shall endeavor to present just and adequate views of it. it is truly time that we should
awake from this lethargy of years and make a concentrated effort for the education of our youth. deliberate miseducation was why the institution of slavery stood for so many generations. [applause] wrong yet very real belief that black people were less than human prevailed among many well-educated white men and women. it was not only perpetuated in schools, but through writing and images published in the white press. the black press from freedom's journal on through other black publications such as lawford's guide and journal air locally presented the america that was being deliberately omitted. real facts told by black journalists pushed all media to be more balanced, more accurate, to become better at telling the
truth. 2019, as news is consumed in new ways, we face the challenge of inaccurate information spread across the internet and the airways. lies have threatened our knowledge of each other as americans. , yet weore educated seem to have less understanding of the truth. [applause] today more than ever, we need a voices of truth in the media such as our speaker today. media personalities who are dedicated to advocacy that educate and move americans to positive action. it is my honor to introduce [indiscernible] a graduate of the university of tennessee and in a law school, he has worked for economic justice both as a civil rights attorney and environmental
activist and is known for his best-selling book the green collar economy. he served as special advisor for green jobs for president obama and is now the host and commentator of cnn. please welcome me in joining van jones. [applause] i am relieved because nobody is good to remember anything that happened except for ricin --bryson. give that man a hand. [applause] everyone was wiping away tears listening to the young man. i will save time by echoing and all of the great words of appreciation and honors to the people who are here and just say a few words. i am a night generation
american. i am a net generation american. i am the first person in my with all ofas born my rights recognized by this government. i am a night generation american and i am the first person in my family. so when people say why do you keep talking about these issues? i am not talking about my great great great great grandparents though i could and should. werether and my father born under segregation. born in poverty and segregation in memphis, tennessee. military when everyone was running out, my father ran in so he could put himself through college. he went to a little black college in jackson, tennessee and he married the college presidents water because my father had it like that. [laughter]
he knew what he was doing [laughter] . out, he and my mother put my uncle through college, his little brother. and his cousins through college. throughntire family got poverty through this bridge called my father's back. died, the picture that of my father on the funeral program was my father standing in front of year law school the day i graduated with hands in the air saying we did it. we showed them. in one generation we showed them. take the foot off our neck a little bit we can go anywhere and compete with anybody. is that myt pain father lost his battle with cancer before being able to see barack obama in the white house. ways, maybe it's good. was not theather
kind of man who would have taken aseasy on me or easy on us we look to the future, my father would have asked me, how can you be happy to have one black man in the white house and almost a million of black men in the jailhouse and not doing enough about it? [applause] it would not be easy on me. he would not be easy on us. have can you be happy to celebrate if you block of billionaires when the average wealth of the black family is going down and down to almost zero? he would be tough on us. the answeredaccept that there are racists in the country. that there are opponents in the country. when i would come home from school and talk about racism at say toy father would
that any dogs on you? [laughter] yes he would say we have to deal with those issues but my father would also say something which i want to share with you. that when you have the right strategy, it is hard to hurt you. when you have the wrong strategy it is hard to help you. when your enemy downgrades, you have to upgrade your approach. as we now look to the next 400 years, we often have black history month. i love black history month. we need more black history it should just be a month. tempted sometimes feel to trade at least one black history month for a black future weekend. can we talk about the black future? can we talk about where we are going?
ising talk about what necessary to get there as we look at the next 400 years? we learned a tough lesson. in the obama white house. gotteneved that we had to the mountaintop that dr. king talked about. mountaintop, that we realized that our sisters and brothers in haiti who had been dropped off of other boats were correct when they say behind the mountain is another mountain. in 2008 was not at the end, it was the beginning of a new journey. behind the mountain of washington, d.c., there are other mountains of power. there are four centers of power in our country. we did not know that until we got to washington, d.c. we spent most of the last century trying to get to washington, d.c. frederick douglass went to
washington. dr. king marched on washington hoping a president would do better. barack and michelle went to the white house. when we got to that corner of power it turned out there were three others. that we didn't know anything about. honest, going to be there is work left to be done in washington, d.c. i am proud to be under the leadership and tutelage of bobby deal doing that work to with mass incarceration, to deal with the prison industrial complex. that bobby scott is bringing conservatives and liberals together to do something about incarceration. conservatives believe in liberty and liberals believe in justice and our incarceration industry denies liberty and justice to many people and that is why bobby scott is such a champion for liberty and justice for all. i love this brother and he is my leader. [applause]
washington, d.c. is only one corner. of a four corner power system. you leave washington, d.c. and get on a train and go north you are in new york city. wall street. finance. big capital. very few african-americans there. i want to make sure that the next generation sitting in our classrooms will study robert smith, the african-american who is beginning to dominate wall street as much as we study anyone else. power, wallig street. take aleave wall street, ,axi and go to the airport, jfk you can fly across the country and within five hours you are in
the bay area of northern california. silicon valley. you have google, apple, facebook, amazon, the people who are building the future. to write the future in-laws and washington, d.c.. now the future is being written in computer code in silicon valley. they are changing your phone right now. the power to write and dictate the future is in silicon valley. very few african-americans in silicon valley. are happy to be given the opportunity to how tod apps not taught write their own and upload apps. we need a generation of upload is not just downloaders. [applause]
lastly, take a leisurely drive from northern california to southern california. you will very quickly be in a place called hollywood. stars not just in the sky but on the sidewalks. another place of power where too often, we are the stars but we do not own the studios. media ownerships in an information age, another mountain to climb. because theo you way we got here was because african-american allies were willing to look clearly and honestly at the challenges that they faced and with less than we have, with less technology, with less money, with less support, with less understanding, they
met every single challenge up to this day. they understood that sometimes you have to have an evolution in the revolution. sometimes you have to have an evolution in the revolution. when you're in many downgrades, sometimes you have to upgrade and we are at that moment. i am confident that we can meet this moment and meet this challenge and climb the mountain of policy in washington, finance and wall street, technology in silicon valley, media ownership in hollywood, and anything else revealed to us because african-americans and our allies have been the driving force.
we are told in 1770 -- we were sold in 1776 when they said and even believed that we had created we had founded a democratic republic on these shores on one day in 1776. fake news. founded a yet democratic republic. we begun to process. frederick douglas and harriet to andstanding up also of are founders democratic republic.
the people who set up at stopwall and said mistreating us because of who we love, they were founders to the trulys of founding a multiracial multiclass democratic republic. the toughest job taken on by any people in the world to have one country with every kind of human being ever born living within it. one country with every race, every faith, every gender presentation, every sexuality, every kind of human being ever born in one place living as a
democracy as a democratic republic. a toughest challenge taken on by any people on earth. a challengege is that was taken on centuries ago and we will be working to develop it centuries from now. what that challenge means for us that you are a founder. you are a founder. the people on this stage are founding the republic that the bryson's of the world will live in and we have to take our charge in our time as seriously as the people before us did so that someday when we put our hands on our hearts, we will have a democratic republic with liberty and justice for all. thank you very much. [applause]
>> please welcome the honorable justin fairfax, lieutenant governor of virginia. good morning, everyone. deeply honored to be here with you all today with this distinguished array of public servants. i thank you all for your leadership, your inspiration, all you do on behalf of the commonwealth of virginia and on behalf of this nation. i recognize all of those who previously have been recognized here in the audience. thank you all for your service. i also wanted to the specially recognized a couple of dear friends who have been instrumental in his commemoration weekend and have given their heart and soul to making this so successful. to the cochairman of the hampton
commemoration commission. [indiscernible] i want to recognize them if they would stand and please take a bow. thank you for your tremendous leadership for all that you have done. i am also very grateful for being joined here by my wonderful family. my brilliant wife, our two young children, my mother-in-law, thank you all. we are grateful that you made the trip to be with us here. there is also a group here at fort monroe that i wanted to recognize who has not yet been properly recognized area if you are the on this fort descendent of anyone who has been enslaved whether you know their name or not, i would be honored if you are able to please stand and be recognized by all of us.
we are grateful you are the legacy that we are here to commemorate and celebrate. let us recognize all of those who represent the best of who we are in virginia and in this nation, the foundational part of why we are here today. [applause] we have heard a lot this morning rightfully so about truth. there is power in the truth. there is power in knowing our history. there is power in knowing whence we came. during the week of our inauguration in january, 2018, i learned how my family have been -- last name or fax areas it was discovered in the old fairfax county courthouse.
the name thomas fairfax who was the night lord fairfax. my father got a copy of that document two days before our inauguration. he gave a copy of it to me. i saw it for the very first time in my life area and 20 minutes before i walked up the steps of the capitol on inauguration day to take the oath of office of lieutenant governor. i have that in my breast pocket. 220 years later, simon fairfax is great great great grandson was being sworn in as the number two leader of the state of virginia. [applause] today, we mark this commemoration to ensure that the world will always remember how
the united states of america got its start. the enslaved africans whose labor and lives are foundational to the beginning and the success of our nation. we stand today on sacred and hallowed ground from which framed the foundation of america. at the stand awe-inspiring intersection of or hundred years of a very complex history. with the dualed strands of darkness and light. that have run through the veins of the commonwealth of virginia and through our nation for centuries. a history of tragedy and triumph. of pain and promise. slavery and salvation, of opposition and opportunity. a history of heart break and hope.
intersection, we must decide what the next 400 years will look like in this land that we love. we must decide whether we finally abandon the racism, sexism, dehumanization, unequal treatment under the law and racial and economic subjugation that met the 20 some odd africans as they were forced to land on this very spot 400 years ago. we must decide whether in the next 400 years we will rise to the better angels of our nature. there is power in the truth. for generations, americans have been taught that the first enslaved africans arrived in jamestown in 1619. today however, we raise up the truth that they in fact were forced to land right here 40
miles southeast in point comfort modern-day hampton virginia. the truth is that among that small band of rave surviving souls were anthony and isabella. who would later find love even in the midst of enslavement to produce william tucker, the first named african child born in english north america. yesterday, eight miles up the road, we commemorated the 400 year milestone of the tucker family cemetery with the beautiful descendents of the great legacy. as i stood there on those hallowed grounds in a cemetery that represented life more than death, i thought about the famous quote they tried to bury us but they did not know we were seeds. family story is the african-american story. it is also the american story.
triumphedople have over obstacles no others have. we will do it again and again. we built this country. do not tell us to go back where we came from. [applause] we have found victory over systematic subjugation and the scene our way through. andave prevailed over lives succeeded against all odds. no one can stop us. we have made a way out of no way. we should be proud of it all. of thed on the shoulders strongest ancestors in world history. ,ncestors whose faith resilience, perseverance, and love have allowed us to rise in
spite of all the many obstacles created to stop our progress. in the famous and immortal words of maya angelou, out of the huts of history i rise. up from a past that is rooted in pain, i rise. i am a black ocean leaping and wide welling and swelling i bear in the tide leaving behind nights of terror and fear i rise into a daybreak that is wondrously clear. i rise. bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, i am the dream and the hope of the slave. i rise i rise i rise. anthony,d that isabella, and the 20 some odd africans came here with nothing.
that is not quite true either. nothing would not have allowed them to survive the brutal month-long journey of angola to where we stand today in the bowels of wooden ships. having nothing would not have permitted their spirits to believe in the capacity of love even as hate and degradation was their daily reality. having nothing would not have allowed them to continue to burn the flame of hope in the seemingly unending midnight of slavery. what they had was spiritual wealth. faith, the values, compassion, love of others and the belief that tomorrow could be brighter than today. centuries, wefor have sailed masterfully in rough seas. over alternating waves of
progress and high tides of adversity, powered by the unflagging wins of faith and and ever steered in the direction of liberation and uplift. we have carried each successive generation to lands of opportunity hoped and prayed for by prior ones. the pace of our progress is sometimes painfully slow and at other times breathtakingly rapid. the broad sweep of our collective journey, because our moral compass remains true, we always make progress. we always rise together. nature of our story in america. it is the hallmark of who we are. time to write another chapter in the great story of america. i believe it will be a chapter where we continue to see the best of who we are because i
have an unwavering belief in the fundamental decency, goodwill, and humanity of the people of virginia and america. comforted by the god of our weary years and the god of our silent tears and with our eyes focused firmly on the promise land, we will rise to the call of history and to the better angels of our nature together. blessess you all, god anthony, isabella, the 20 all enslaved africans, william tucker, the commonwealth of virginia, we will all rise together. god bless you all. [applause] >> to deliver today's benediction, please welcome reverend monsignor walter barrett junior.
[applause] god of our silent tears that has .rought us thus far on the way that who has by thy might lead us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray. as our feet stray from the places our god where we met the, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget the. hand, maybeeath thy
till earth and heaven ring ring with the harmonies of liberty; let our rejoicing rise, high as the list'ning skies, let it resound loud as the rolling sea sing a song full of faith that the dark past has tought us, ♪ sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won. ♪ stony the road we trod,
bitter the chast'ning rod, felt in the day that hope unborn had died; yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, come to the place on witch our fathers sighed? ♪ we have come over a way that with tears has been watered, we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our star is cast.
god of our weary years, god of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far on the way; thou who has by thy might, led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray lest our feet stray frm the places, our god, where we met thee, least our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee, shadowed beneath the hand, may we forever stand,
tru to our god, tru to our native land. [applause] all of today's coverage on the 400 anniversary of the arrival of the first africans into virginia tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. we will start our interview followed by the ceremony that just ended. >> next on "the presidency," historians analyze the secret white house tapes of john f. kennedy, lyndon b. johnson, and richard m. nixon. we get an inside look into how presidents conducted day-to-day business and hear their candid assessments. the university of virginia's miller center hosted this event.