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Laura Galante Statement On The 400th Anniversary Of The Arrival Of Enslaved Africans To Virginia

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From the Laura Galante for Delegate campaign:

Marshall, VA (August 23) – Four hundred years ago a ship arrived at Point Comfort carrying the first enslaved Africans to the shores of what would become the Commonwealth of Virginia. American history is deeply tied to this fateful moment in late August 1619. 

Their arrival inaugurated a brutal system of race-based slavery in the American colonies that would last until the end of the Civil War in 1865.  Frequently, historical representations of slavery portray the practice as an aberration from America’s founding ideals. 

In reality, no aspect of the American experience has escaped the impact of the nation’s original sin. America’s financial might, political system, healthcare policies, educational practices, and popular culture are all deeply rooted in the Black American experience that evolved from 
slavery. 

The 245 years of American slavery mean at least a dozen generations lived through the barbaric practice directly.  Slavery is also exceptionally recent, Americans alive today can remember sitting on the laps of grandparents who were born enslaved. 

There are reminders of the proximity of slavery to our own lives all across Virginia and the 18th District.  That many black churches in Virginia have founding dates like 1866 and 1867 is no coincidence. The Rosenwald School in Scrabble, Zion Baptist Church in Marshall, Free Town in Front Royal, and Antioch Cemetery in Culpeper are reminders of how 
recently slavery, and the segregation which immediately followed, ended in 18th District. 

The history of slavery and its legacy of segregation and 
disenfranchisement, means that many Americans have lived and died in a United States that was never the democracy it espoused to be. Black Americans, both freed and enslaved, have led the fight to make our founding ideals true; without this fight our democracy would remain imperfect. It is my fervent hope that by acknowledging our proximity to some of our nations darkest hours we, as Virginians and Americans, can recommit ourselves to the struggle for a more perfect union.