The Beginning of American Slavery

Series 2019 

Four hundred years ago, in 1619, the first enslaved Africans were brought to the English colonies. My first story in the series starts where they did — the place they first set foot in what would become the US. In an official decree, President Obama said that was Fort Monroe, in Virginia. But the people there feel like they've been eclipsed by the tourist attraction, Jamestown. 

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The second story looks at who gets to decide what people learn about history, and from what perspective. Many sites that are important to the African American story of survival and resilience have been neglected, despite Virginia's commitment to recognizing the 400th anniversary of American slavery in an inclusive way.

Things kept happening that played into the series. In Brazil, the death of a black man eerily echoed that of Eric Garner's. Protesters there began to coalesce around a Black Lives Matter movement. It was an opportunity to look at one of the themes that has played out in the US and other countries that participated in the transatlantic slave trade: police brutality.

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