WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — This weekend, members of the Congressional Black Caucus travel to Richmond, Virginia, for a commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first captive Africans in the British North American colonies.
The first enslaved Africans arrived at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619.
“By understanding the history of Virginia, you can better understand the history of America,” said Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Virginia).
McEachin invited members of Congress to Richmond as part of Virginia’s ceremonies marking the anniversary. The events are designed to recognize the struggles and accomplishments of black Americans from 1619 to the present. The lawmakers will attend a town hall on current concerns in the black community and will honor the late tennis legend and civil rights advocate Arthur Ashe.
Senator Mark Warner said the events commemorating the 400th anniversary will help focus attention on the African American experience.
“Both the good, the bad. The fact that African Americans have been integral to the development of America. Often times their stories have not be told,” said Sen. Warner (D-Virginia).
In addition to raising awareness, lawmakers are taking steps to protect parts of African American history.
Congressman McEachin is a co-sponsor of a bill aimed a preserving African American burial grounds. He said some of the sites have been badly damaged or replaced by development. His bill would provide grants for research and restoration. “It’s important that we tell the whole story. We preserve so many things in this country. so many monuments so many other types of grave sites,” Rep. McEachin said.
Supporters hope their efforts will shine a national spotlight on African American history and ensure that it’s not lost forever.