Alexandria, VA

Tonight, the Alexandria History Museum at the Lyceum is hosting a history lesson on on how the year 1619 shaped Virginia.

The year marks the founding of the Virginia Assembly, the first African slaves forcibly transported to Virginia’s shores, and the arrival of the first ship of European women to the colony. And tonight, Tuesday, October 8, three historians will discuss the significance of those pivotal moments for the state, and the country, 400 years ago.

The free event will begin at 7 p.m. in the The Lyceum at 201 S. Washington St.

Panelists include Dr. Nick Gaffney, Professor of History at the Professor at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and a member of the Commemoration Committee to raise awareness of the history of slavery and the accomplishments of African Americans since then.

The professor is slated to discuss slavery and the significant of Virginia’s first enslaved African who were brought to the state in 1619 during tonight’s panel.

Gaffney will be joined by Dr. Jim McClellan, also a Professor of History at NOVA, who will talk about the founding of the Virginia Assembly and its European influences, as well as what the English settlers’ treatment of Native Americans in Virginia had to do with the events in 1619.

A third Professor of History at NOVA, Dr. Lynette Garrett, will join the panel discussion to speak about the role of women in colonial Virginia.

The event comes after a few months after the New York Times published a groundbreaking edition, the “1619 Project,” to examine the stories of slavery and the legacy of the slave trade today in America. Groups of African Americans have also been holding their own private ceremonies grappling with the beginning of slavery in the U.S.

A separate event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Virginia Assembly in July was boycotted by the Virginia Black Caucus, which protested President Trump’s planned speech in light of what they said was his history of racist remarks and policies.

As with any part of Virginia, Alexandria has its fair share of local history intertwined with the legacies of slavery: from local man John F. Parker, who was born to slavery and later became the principal of Snowden School for Boys in Alexandria, to the city’s legacy of segregated housing.

Interested attendees who can’t make it to tonight’s panel have another opportunity tomorrow morning, October 9, when the NOVA Alexandria Campus (5000 Dawes Avenue) hosts a second panel discussion on the topic.

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