1619 and the Making of America


>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington D.C.>>Travis Hensley: Good
afternoon everyone. My name is Travis Hensley. I’m a program specialist here
at the John W. Kluge Center. Just a few quick announcements. First of all, I’d
like to ask you all to please put your
phone on silent. And I also want to let you
know that this is being filmed for broadcast on
CSPAN History TV and the Library of
Congress’ website. It is my pleasure to introduce
acting deputy librarian of Congress, Mark Sweeney. [ Applause ]>>Mark Sweeney: Thank
you, and good afternoon, and welcome to the
Library of Congress. It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the Library’s historic
Thomas Jefferson Building and this afternoon symposium
1619 in the Making of America, which is being hosted by the
John W. Kluge Center here at the Library of Congress. The Kluge Center was
founded in 2000 in order to foster the mutually enriching
relationship between scholars and political leaders. The Kluge Center
attracts to Washington, the best minds available
in the scholarly world. Facilitates their access to
the Library’s rich, diverse and enduring source
of knowledge. And engages them in conversation
with the US Congress and other political figures. Today’s symposium is being
held in collaboration with the Middle Passage Project
of the College of William and Mary, Norfolk
State University and the Virginia Commonwealth’s
2019 Commemoration. Founded in 1995, the Middle
Passage Project explores the history and memory surrounding
the Transatlantic slave trade, its resounding effects on
Africans in the Americas and its representation
in literature, the humanities, art and history. 1619 was a pivotal year
in America’s history and marks the arrival
of the first Africans to English North
America, the establishment of the first permanent
English colony in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and the
first representative legislative assembly in the new world
with the founding of the House of House of Burgesses. This symposium will explore
the intricate encounters of Africans, Europeans and Native peoples during
this significant period. Who are the Africans that
arrived in Jamestown in 1619? Where did they come from? What world did they
bring with them? What emerged from the
Africans’ engagement with indigenous Native American
populations and their spiritual and cultural life ways? And what is the enduring
legacy of this encounter today? So many questions that we can
have answered, hopefully, today. Today’s program will promote
historical accessibility to the meaning of 1619
and lay the groundwork for a national dialogue
and renewed understanding of the major events that
began 400 years ago. Lastly, our curators here at the Library have
prepared a special treat for you this afternoon. They’ve assembled a display of
treasures and historical items from the Library’s collections
related to the early Americas, and I invite you to explore them in the other room there
after the program. And now let me turn this
over to today’s convener, the 2015 Larsen Fellow in
Health and Spirituality at the John W. Kluge
Center and the director of The Middle Passage
Project, Dr. Joanne Braxton. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Joanne M. Braxton: Thank you
for that warm welcome, Mark. It’s good to be here. On behalf of The
Middle Passage Project, the Joseph Jenkins Roberts
Institute for Africana Studies at Norfolk State University
International Programs, the Virginia Historical
Foundation for the Humanities, the College of William &
Mary’s 1619 project initiative, our lemon project and
the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and especially
the 2019 Commemoration American Evolution. I thank you for making
us welcome here today at the John W. Kluge Center. And we would also like to add
our welcome, our warm welcome to everyone who has come
out today, not only to hear, but to engage and participate in what we hope will be a
transformative conversation. I would like to give a special
thank you to Travis Hensley of the Library of
Congress Office of Scholarly Programs
Kluge Center for seeing the significance of
today’s symposium and exhibition and supporting it with
enthusiasm and gusto over a period of time. [ Applause ] We all love Travis. We hope that this conversation
will lay the groundwork for a national dialogue and
reinterpretation of major events that began in 1619 that
would shape the contours and character of America today. This event is part
of a larger project of 2019 commemoration
American Evolution that will bring programs, events
and scholarly conversations to the Commonwealth of
Virginia and the nation in the next two years
as we examine 400 years of American history in Virginia. Our speakers today are
Professor Robert Trent Vinson of the College of
William & Mary, Professor Cassandra
Newby-Alexander of Norfolk State University,
Chief Lynette Allston of the Nottoway Indian tribe
of Virginia, Incorporated and myself, Joanne Braxton. You have our bios
in your program, so I will spare you
reading the biographies. Our presentations today will
range from the scholarly and the historical to
informed personal reflections. And again, there will
be a time for engagement as indicated on your program. So, without further ado, I would
welcome Robert Trent Vinson, my esteemed colleague. [ Applause ]>>Robert Trent Vinson:
Thank you, Dr. Braxton. Thank you to the Kluge Center. There are many, many
thanks to give. I have limited time, and academics are
notoriously long-winded. So I could take up all my time
by giving thanks to everyone. So, thank you to everyone. So my job here is to talk a bit
about the African background and the Transatlantic journeys
of the 1619, 20 and odd Negroes that arrived at Point
Comfort, Virginia. Point Comfort, which
is now Hampton. Right near the fledgling
Jamestown settlement in 1619. Who were they? Where did they come from? And what was their experience? What might their
experience have been as best as we can reconstruct it? In August 1619, a captive woman
named Angela, part of those 20 and odd Africans that
landed at Point Comfort, arrived traumatized, mentally,
emotionally and physically, that endured a long journey
of months from their homes in West Central Africa. They likely came from the
West Central African states of Congo and Ndongo. If you take a look at
the map to the left here, you’ll see this region
of West Central Africa, and you’ll see Congo, and
you’ll also see Ndongo in this area here. I hope everyone can see okay. And you’ll also notice
the word Luanda, which will be the capital of a
Portuguese colony called Angola. So those are our three major
points that I’ll refer to. Of course, the 1619 Africans
were not the first time that Africans had arrived
in the Western Hemisphere. By the time Angela and her
fellow captors had arrived, about 500,000 enslaved
Africans had already gone on a transatlantic journey
from the West Coast of Africa into the Americas, primarily in
Spanish colonies in the Americas and the Portuguese
colony of Brazil. They came from densely
settled urban towns. Some came from rural villages where they would have
raised agricultural crops like sorghum and millet. Some might have tended
livestock including cattle. And interestingly enough, if
you notice their names, Angela, Pedro, Peter, some featured
Iberian and Christian names. And that is indicative of
the fact that in this area, particularly in Congo, there had
been a longstanding engagement with Christianity
and with Portugal. Congo, in particular, was
a strong political state that maintained close
diplomatic, economic and cultural ties with Portugal. With Portuguese Catholic
missionaries and traders in Congo and Congolese
royal ambassadors and other emissaries
going to Portugal starting in the 15th century continuing
through the 16th century. By 1491, Congolese royalty
declared Christianity to be a state religion. But this was controlled
by the Congolese. So it’s not an imposition
by the Portuguese, but this was Congolese engaging
in Christianity and using that to start Congolese-run
Christian schools. They were literate people who spoke the closely
related languages of Kikongo and Kimbundu. Some also spoke Portuguese. And by 1595, the papacy
in Rome had declared Congo to be its own Episcopal
district, and its primary church
became a cathedral. Christianity also impacted in
the state of Ndongo as well. So, the names are indicative of this engagement
with Christianity. Now, though Congo had
exported enslaved people to the African sugar-producing
island of South Tome and West Africa, island
off of West Africa and to Portugal itself,
since the early 16th century, Portuguese military expeditions
later in that same century against Ndongo and also Congo where the immediate
circumstances had generated thousands of enslaved war
captives including those that came in 1619. As I mentioned, Portugal had
established a small colony Angola in 1575, making
it the first African area under European occupation
during the early years of the Atlantic slave trade. And this trade, of course,
extends across the world, the transatlantic trade
from 1502 until 1870. This period of time when about
15 million Africans would have boarded ships, and about 12
million Africans would have arrived in the Americas. Why the disparity of 15
million leaving Africa and 12 million arriving
in the Americas? The middle passage, right. So an estimated 20 to 25% of those Africans boarding those
ships in Africa did not make it to the other side, Angela and
her fellow captives that arrived in Port Comfort with
those who survived. Now the Portuguese
dynamic is important here because Angola became
a launching point for Portuguese governors to
initiate war, specifically to generate war captives. Angolan-based Portuguese
merchants held the asiento, a contract with the Spanish
crown to deliver thousands of slaves, enslaved people I
should say, to Spanish colonies. So this combination of
policy, Portuguese policy, to engage in war and a
contract, a commercial contract, created a dynamic where
warfare was deliberately used to generate war captives
and enslaved people. And now 1619 Africans
were part of this dynamic. The Portuguese governor in 1617, Luis Mendes de Vasconcellos
Mendes was bent on conquests as the only means to get
the numbers that he wanted, an estimated 9,000
to 12,000 annually. In his reign from 1617 to 1621 over 50,000 Africans were
exported from Luanda. Over 150 slave ships left
the Angolan port of Luanda, including our 1619 Africans. Now in contrast to
popular perceptions that African tribal wars were
the cause of slave trading, it was these military
expeditions of the Portuguese with mercenary militaristic
Africans known as the Imbangala that drove these chaotic
lawless conditions. In this war context then,
slavery became ubiquitous. Slave economies developed
as the buying and selling of enslaved people entered
African regional commercial networks and slaves, not silver
money, became the currency for all financial transactions
and for political tribute paid by lesser states to
more powerful states to whom they claimed
allegiance to. These enslaved Africans like
Angela, deeply traumatized by the circumstances
of their enslavement, their forced separation
from family and friends and the stripping of
their societal identities. Imagine, all of who you are,
connected to all the people that you love, no
longer matters. That you are reduced,
dehumanized, to be a unit of labor. Imagine then that at
the point of capture, which could be hundreds
of miles in the interior, you are already starting a type of middle passage even before
you step foot on a ship. Because quite often, the point
of capture during this point of the Atlantic slave
trade could be in the interior of Africa. And you could be marched to the
coast over hundreds of miles and be sold over and over again with different owners before
you even get to a ship. And then imagine Angela and
her fellow captives boarding that ship and being in the
holds of these slave ships. And perhaps being
raped, women, children and sometimes men, raped. Imagine being chained to the
holds where there is nowhere to go to the bathroom. Imagine for the first
time being on an ocean. Many Africans had never seen the
ocean much less been on a ship. And dealing with the seasickness
that comes with that and having to wallow in your
excrement and your vomit. And dealing with a disease
that runs rampant in the holds. Dysentery was a major killer. And in the age of wind and
sail, when you had to rely on the winds and the currents
to make it across the ocean, that journey could take months. And you could run out of food. And already in a weakened state,
if you are perceived to be one of the diseased or one of
the ones who are too weak to make it across, you’d
be thrown overboard where the sharks
that had learned to follow these ships
would eat you. Imagine that experience for
Angela and her fellow captives that might have dealt
with some of this. We do know that Angela was one
of 350 enslaved people loaded onto the San Juan Bautista,
a Portuguese slaving ship, leaving Luanda, bound
for the Spanish colony in Veracruz, Mexico. That was supplying the
numbers needed in that asiento. In Veracruz, they would
have joined a growing slave population that included
plantation workers and personal servants. But, they didn’t make it
to Veracruz, as we know. They made it to Point Comfort. So what happened? In route to Veracruz, the
San Juan Bautista stopped in Jamaica, selling 24 children. And there were many
children on these voyages. And they were exchanged
for needed supplies. Perhaps the San Juan Bautista
was running low on supplies. Now just a few days
away from Mexico, the San Juan Bautista
was boarded by two English privateers,
The White Lion, The White Lion was carrying
a Dutch license to wage war on the pirate ships,
and The Treasurer. And those two ships took cargo
off of the San Juan Bautista and about 60 enslaved people
with them, including Angela and our 20 and odd
Negroes, or Africans. In late August 1619,
the White Lion arrived in the Virginia settlement that was encroaching upon
Native American territories. Trading their 20 and odd
Negroes for victuals. This is the [inaudible]
record food. Angela and approximately 28
other captive Africans arrived on The Treasurer four days
later after The White Lion. But The Treasurer had sailed
on to a second English colony of Bermuda, where most were
sold, including Angela. But in February 1620,
Angela and a handful of other original captives from the San Juan Bautista found
themselves once again boarding The Treasurer where they
landed back in Virginia. And she and her fellow captives from West Central Africa
were most, if not all, of the 32 Africans recorded
in Virginia’s May 1620 census. As I conclude, passing
through Imbangala, Portuguese, Dutch and English hands,
the experience of Angela and her fellow captives
foreshadowed major themes in Africa and the
Atlantic world. The Portuguese colony of Angola
reflected an early example of intensifying slave
rating and slavery in Africa and deepening European
economic interests that would lead indirectly
to European colonialism, of virtually all of Africa,
nearly three centuries later. Luanda, the port from
which Angela and the 20 and odd Africans came
would be the export site for 1.3 million other captives over the entire Atlantic
slave trade period. More than any other
African port. Angela’s story also
provides a glimpse of the increased Atlantic world
presence of not just the Spanish and the Portuguese, but
particularly of the Dutch and the English and
the soon to be French who are moving beyond
just pirating Portuguese and Spanish ships for their
riches gained from slavery, but to establish
their own colonies in the Western Hemisphere. And Jamestown was part
of that early effort. England would be the
largest slave trading nation in the 18th century. To these erstwhile pirates
and aspirant colonists, Angela and other enslaved
people would be critical in generating untold
wealth for new societies that were race-based, that
developed racial caste systems, echoes of which we
still live with today. Despite common perceptions that enslaved Africans
came almost exclusively from West Africa, and many did, Angela’s story illuminates
the fact that most of the 500,000 African women,
men and children that arrived in the Americas by 1619 came
from West Central Africa. It was these West Central
Africans like Angela that were the chartered
generations, those first generations
of Africans and the largest force
migration in world history that laid the foundation
for the African diaspora and the Americas. Thank you for listening. [ Applause ]>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:
Good afternoon. My colleague has beautifully
laid out the foundation. And I’m going to talk about
the rest of the story. I’m going to take
you, not from the West or Central African coastlines,
but rather to Virginia, to the first place
where America began. That beginning in 1619
with the arrival of the 20 and odd Negroes aboard the
English ship White Lion, people of African descent
became a permanent cultural and political fixture
in America. For the first century, the vast
majority of the Africans coming to Virginia were from
Central and West Africa. Subjected to a kind of
forced acculturation that accompanied
their enslavement, Africans adapted over time. This, however, did not imply
that they divested themselves of their African culture. Instead, they infused America’s
evolving customs with art, music, culinary practices,
trading systems, agricultural and architectural
techniques and language, creating a creole society
that became the foundation of an emerging American culture. And though initially
small in number, these first-generation Africans
helped define even the concepts of freedom and liberty
because of their ongoing demand for inclusion and civil rights. Through this effort, they helped
establish an international definition of freedom. Indeed, as the past 400
years will attest, Africans and their descendants
embarked on a quest to restore their humanity
and to be recognized as true American citizens. After Africans began arriving
in the Virginia colony, many of the English officials
became these first owners of these people. Their plantations, as
you can see on this map that is a map created by Smith in the early part
of the 17th century. And I want you to pay attention
to this because this kind of takes our vantage point,
our viewpoint, and changes it. It shifts it. Our viewpoint is like this. But the map takes it
and moves it that way. Because when you
see the Chesapeake, the Chesapeake is
usually, in our maps, depicted almost north and south. But this one actually
moves it almost to an east-west direction. And that is because that
was the vantage point of the first people. It shows their trade
and their connections. And that’s why the first
Africans, when they arrived, the English when they arrived,
the settled on the same lands and oriented themselves
in the same way as many of the Native peoples
who established the towns and cities in Virginia. So these plantations that the
English gravitated towards and created for themselves
were located on one of the 18 to 19 prime sites, so
along the James River. Starting between
April of 1619 and 120, the early Africans were
concentrated in these areas, James City, Elizabeth City
and Suri [phonetic] Counties. In these early years,
the Africans who appeared in the records typically were
listed along with their owners and often with only a first
name, belying their status in the colony, even during these
critical foundational years. According to the Virginia
muster records of 1624, 1625, 21 Africans lived in
the colonized area of Abraham Percy’s plantation, now known as Flowerdew
Plantation or Flowerdew Hundred. Only four out of the 11 people
mentioned were mentioned by name. So the rest of the people
didn’t even have an identity as a human being. Well, those four people
included Anthony, Williams, John and another Anthony. If you notice, they lacked
a last name, a surname, a name that would
give them civil rights because it would recognize
them as human beings. In the township of Jamestown,
there were three Africans who were listed with
only one listed by name, and that name was misspelled. The woman’s name was Angela, and
yet, they listed her as Angelo. Angela was the first
African woman documented. She was forcibly brought
into the Virginia colony, as you heard earlier, on
this ship, The Treasurer. She was listed as the property
of Captain William Pierce. She was referred to as quote, that Negro woman
who raised pigs. Angela was probably working
with Pierce’s wife, Joan, to maintain a three
two four-acre garden. Another Angolan brought into
the colony was named Edward. Identified as living on a plantation called
Necoland [phonetic]. The owner was Richard Kingsmill. Four other Angolans lived on
the Bennett Plantation, Peter, Anthony, Francis and Margaret. While two others lived
at Elizabeth City, which is now Hampton, with
Captain William Tucker. And their names,
Anthony and Isabella. And reportedly, Anthony
and Isabella who were married has a child
in 1624 that they named after Captain William
Tucker, who interestingly, became the child’s godfather, thereby protecting
that child’s status. Francis Payne was enslaved by
William Eltonhead [phonetic], but by 1655, he was
listed as a free man with a wife and children. And he actually owned
land on Cherrystone Creek, located on the eastern shore. Emmanuel Drigues
[phonetic] or Rodrigues, was listed as the property of
Captain Francis Pott in 1645. And while it is unclear
when he became free, he was part of a
minority of Africans who gained their freedom,
securing 145 acres of land on the eastern shore on King’s
Creek in North Hampton County. Similarly, William
Harmon, who was transported to the Virginia colony
and enslaved in 1662 to William Kendall in North
Hampton County, again, on the eastern shore, was
freed six years later in 1668, and he was listed in the
records along with is wife, who interestingly, was listed
with both a first and last name, Jane Gossell [phonetic]. And he was listed as raising
cattle on the eastern shore. So while there were some whose
status changed from enslaved to free, the vast majority of
these early Africans were locked in a system of perpetual
servitude within the American
colonies’ first slaving zone. Even so, Africans
successfully adapted their labor and [inaudible] and traditions
to this new environment with responsibilities that included agricultural
production, cooking, construction and
household management. It was during these early
years that African food and culinary practices
were incorporated into the Virginia colony. For example, the Virginia house
was an adapted architectural model that English
colonists began constructing, similar to the shotgun houses
you see commonly in the South. Unlike the English houses that
were designed to retain heat and limit airflow
throughout the house, the Virginia houses
were constructed to do just the opposite
because of the warm temperatures and the humid environment. In early Virginia, northern
Native American foods such as corn, squash, pumpkin
and beans, were integrated into the English diet. These foods intersected
with the culinary traditions that the English introduced
into America that included pigs and cattle, chicken and sheep,
wheat, flour, onions, carrots and a variety of
greens and beans. They also introduced sweet
potatoes and white potatoes to the colonies through
this Atlantic trade. When the Africans were brought
into the American colonies, many of their native plants
accompanied them aboard these ships, including black-eyed
peas, okra, yams, peanuts, watermelons, sesame
seeds, cassava, kola nuts, and lima beans. And because Africans were
brought into the colonies and lived and worked in
the households of some of the most prominent planters,
the same planters, by the way, responsible for transporting
supplies into the colony and establishing the cultural
tone, they were tasked with these cooking duties. Historian Donna Gabaccia
argued, and I quote, “It was African slaves’
central position as producers and processors of
food that allowed them to leave their own
special mark.” It was in the Central
and West African areas, or I should say it was the
Central and West Africans who laid the foundations
for the cuisine that we know today
as southern cooking. Which infused dishes with hot
pepper and spices, millet, peanuts and sweet potatoes. For example, as they
mixed fried okra with rice and black-eyed peas using
slow cooking techniques to produce dishes like
gumbo and peanut soup, their African culinary practices
altered the way the English and Native Americans
consumed food. Culinary Historian
Jessica Harris observed that food traditions
provide a historical roadmap for American society. Because the foods we eat
hold symbols and meaning that connects us with our ethnic
origins and shared creole past. America’s colonial cookbooks
reflected the creolization of foods and food ways
while simultaneously erasing or making invisible the
contributions of the people who created those food ways
and customs to begin with. Scholar Alisha Cromwell noted
that the challenge, therefore, is “studying the silences”
of how Africans contributed to the evolution of
American culture. Religious expression of
these 17th century Africans, as Rebecca Goetz’s 2012
groundbreaking work, The Baptism of Early
Virginia noted, how Africans in Virginia used
religion as the vehicle by which they individually and collectively
expressed their voice. During the colonial period,
many sought to retain elements of their African customs and
manners to the frustration of whites who regarded
their refusal to assimilate as indicators of their
heathenism and inferiority. Yet, these 17th century Africans
came armed with the knowledge of ecclesiastical and
theological rules called from their knowledge
of Catholicism because of their contact
with the Portuguese. For a short period,
Africans were even able to use baptism practices and
the legal protections that came from godparents as pathways
to freedom and a way to build community networks. Thus, the American colonial
period was replete with examples of how Africans infused their
various cultural practices into the overall culture that was evolving during these
early years, impacting everyone, not just those within
their community, but the entire community of
Virginia and later of America. Religion, music, food ways,
customs, oral traditions, language and art became uniquely
American because of the African. Patent jubah [phonetic] which
was the beating of the hands on the thighs and the stomping
of the heels of the feet to produce percussion music. Fiddle and banjo music became
the traditional entertainment forms among Africans
and African-Americans. And because these individuals
were the primary musicians, especially in Virginia, they
impacted the way that everyone in the colony and later
in the nation saw music, heard music, felt music. These kinds of musical
practices were the most popular and most highly in demand. The intersection of
countless African ethnicities through the transatlantic
slave trade journey and in the American crucible
created a new form of culture that combined these
traditions with those of the English and
Native peoples. And while these new
practices and traditions that were influenced
so effectively by primarily these enslaved
Africans that culture as African-American novelist
Ralph Ellison noted was, “more than the sum of
this brutalization.” Instead, acknowledging
the impact of Africans in the formation of American’s
culture, is an affirmation of life and the attitudes
of those who became part of the American experience. And for those Africans
in American, the infusion of their cultures into the
American landscape while assimilating and
acculturating meant that they were an important
part of transforming, mutating and even creating a
unique hybrid culture that we call American. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Lynette Lewis Allston:
First, thank you to Dr. Braxton and to the Library of
Congress for allowing me to give you all the Native
perspective on early Virginia. From the arrival of the English
in 1607 until the 1619 arrival of Africans and European women,
the world of the Native people of Virginia was drastically
altered. The clash of cultures brought
disruption of lifestyle, loss of oral tradition
and language, assault of manifest
destiny on spiritual and religious practices, resulting in prejudice
and death. The challenge in explaining
how the Native population felt about the arrival
of new people is to make my 21st century
unselfish view of living in the early 17th century because Native people
transferred information from generation to generation
through oral tradition. Much of that information
has been lost. The sources of written
accounts from early times in Virginia are found
in personal writings such as diaries and in the
collection of statutes and laws that were created by those
who arrived at Jamestown. Through time, much has been
written about the early times in Virginia by people who
have offered their analysis and perspective,
their speculation and their imagination to address
their views of the events. In most cases, the people who
wrote about life in Jamestown in the 17th century were not
altruistic in their accounts. They were people who had
more to gain than to give. Was the first reaction
by the Native tribes that these newcomers
are here to harm? Did their curiosity
about the first Europeans and then Africans overcome fear? Long before 1619, indigenous
communities were accustomed to the arrival of
persons from far away. Usually, these travelers
were indigenous people from other locales coming
for trade, and they were of similar skin color. They spoke languages that
at least some words could be understood. They came, they socialized,
they traded, and they left to come again another time. These new visitors who came
by ships looked different, spoke an unknown
language and brought with them curiously
different goods. Were they like the others
here to trade and depart? Or did they have a
different motive? In short order, it became
obvious that this group of strangers who brought
no women with them in the first phase
were different from previous visitors. Native curiosity was tempered
by an awareness of danger and soon turned to unease. Unease turned to fear, and
fear turned to loathing. By 1619, the reality of
conflict was a part of living with the presence of people
who exhibited cultural biases and invasive socioeconomic
goals. Within a short time of
arriving in Jamestown, the colonists were engaged
in the cycle of attacks and reprisals by the paladin
tribes who saw the reality that the arrival of these
new people was an invasion. Just 12 years after the arrival
of the strangers in 1607, the tribes saw the coming
of more unfamiliar arrivals, Africans, and finally
a few European women. The attack on the Native
population was not only physically with weapons
and disease, there was also a cultural
attack with religion, education, gender roles, forced
apprenticeships on Native children, forced
indenture, slavery and loss of identity through
paper genocide. With the establishment of the
colonial government in 1619 and the meeting of the House
of Burgesses, the direction for defining race and
class and separation began. Statutes at large, laws of
Virginia began the process of creating barriers and
restrictions on those who were viewed by Angelo
men as being subordinate. This new societal strata
enhanced the evolution of interaction between
Native people, Africans, women and the indentured
population. Some of that interaction
was natural and voluntary, and
some was coerced. The laws of Virginia show that
English mindset towards Natives with citations, even
in the index of laws that created references that
say savages, “see Indians.” The threat of quasi
slavery was ever present. In 1655, there’s
a law that states if Indian parents bring their
children in as hostages, then choose the persons to
care for their children. They will not be used as slaves. But we will do our best to bring
them into Christianity, civility and the knowledge
of necessary trades. Now this may sound like a
benevolent idea, but in reality, it is a method of acculturation. Also, in 1655, it was deemed “a
great scandal to Christianity, rendering religion
contemptable to buy an Indian. Yet, selling an Indian, who
had committed an infraction, was acceptable. As stated in a 1660 decision
that resulted from an accusation of damages done on English
property and states if they, the Indians, do not comply then
so many as the court think fit, shall be apprehended and sold into a foreign country
to satisfy the award. Through a series of
violent confrontations, subsequent documents that the
colonial government labeled as treaties, traditional Native
cultural patterns of trade, travel and even selection of
leadership, was transformed. Methods were instituted to control traditional
indigenous leadership structure. We read historical documents
which label various Natives as chiefs, queens, kings,
headmen, without realizing that title terms were
generated by the colonists. As an example, in 1663, the colonial statute stated the
Indians shall not have the power within themselves to elect or constitute their
own chief commander. But the present honorable
governor and his successors shall
authorize such person. By the time of Nathanial Bacon’s
oddly-named rebellion in 1676, those who fought could keep
a captured Native as a reward for assisting and
attacking the Occaneechi. Field historians
have acknowledged that Nathanial Bacon’s primary
objective was to disrupt one of the largest pre-Anglo
trading centers near present-day Clarksville, Virginia. By decimating the Occaneechi,
Bacon was positioning himself and other Anglos to control
a major historical indigenous trade route. Accurate history is filled
with unpleasant realities. And I acknowledge this because
a segment of my own tribe, the Nottoway, assisted Bacon in the slaughter
of the Occaneechis. If we seek historical
reconciliation, we must be open to addressing immoral
ambiguity and unpleasantries. There was an ongoing and
everchanging list of early laws on anti-miscegenation, birth
of mixed-race children, trade with Natives,
Natives traveling through land appropriate
by colonists and more. The most obvious and sensitive
issue is disparate consideration of racial intermarriage. The way we looked,
the visual appearance of the Native population, had
much to do with the attraction for interaction between
Natives and Africans. An example of appearances
provided in the 1700s diary
of William Bird. Bird visited the Nottoway
great town during his travels to survey the border between
Virginia and North Carolina. Bird described the Nottoway
as people of mahogany skins and the copper colored
ones of Nottoway town. He described the Nottoway this
way long before an extensive intermarriage with Nottoway with
either Europeans or Africans. Over time, the Nottoway
did intermarry with Europeans and Africans. We can assume that there
was an inclination of people of darker skin tones who
were viewed and had to act, and were acted upon
as subordinate to establish common bonds
for safety and survival. To that end, the
Nottoway tribe who lived in the 1700s were
living on 40,000 acres of reservation land,
provided safe haven for segments of displaced
tribes. Escaped slaves and
runaway indentures, also found save haven
on that reservation. At the time that Bird was
surveying the Virginia North Carolina dividing line, the
Weyanoke Tribe had been removed from its territory
from the James River. In a deposition of Henry
Briggs in 1711, Briggs states that the Weyanoke live
on Wyocake [phonetic] on the Nottoway River and have
paid the Nottoway much peak to live there. At the same time,
segments of other tribes, including Meherrin,
Nansemond and Tuscarora came to live with the Nottoway. The Nottoway 40,000-acre
reservation was a buffer against Anglo conflicts
with the Tuscarora who were stridently resistant to colonial usurpation
of their land. The Nottoway reservation was
in present day South Hampton and Sussex County in Virginia. With the loss of territory,
some Virginia natives were able to survive by living
on reservation, and others became servants
and laborers on land that was once their own. In the 19th century, the
Nottoway took allotments of reservation land and
became individual landowners. Yet, as individual landowners,
we were subject to taxes. And if we did not pay those
taxes, we were subject to involuntary indenture. 1619 was the pinnacle
marker for racial and gender discrimination
laws that compounded and impacted Native identity
into the 20th century. Native people traditionally had
a balanced view of gender roles and the importance of women. Native women were involved as decision makers
in tribal structure. As time passed, Native
identity was transitioned to other designations
based on skin color. In Virginia, paper genocide
systematically categorized Natives as people of color
and erased Native identity on census records
and legal documents. The Racial Integrity Act of
1924 in its implementation by Walter Plecker as head of
the Bureau of Vital Statistics for Virginia mandated that
there were only two races in Virginia, white and colored. The Racial Integrity
Act remained until 1967, when the US Supreme
Court in Loving versus Virginia found the law
prohibiting interracial marriage to be unconstitutional. A subsequent change in
Virginia law restored identity and allowed birth certificates of Virginia tribal
members to be corrected. In today’s world, I remind
citizens of my tribe, including one that’s sitting
on the front row over here, that the Nottoway
Indian Tribe of Virginia, that our first family
were Native people. And that anyone else who
came along simply joined us, and that made us
who we are today. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Joanne M. Braxton:
Thank you Trent, Cassandra and Lynette, and I am last. Today I’m going to speak
about just a very small part of my work here at
the Kluge Center. And my larger project on
African-American spirituality and health is on view under
the title At the Crossroads of Spirituality and Health
on the Kluge Center website. So, today’s talk is red-black, spirit medicine in
the Chesapeake. Origins of the Weyanoke,
1619 to the present. And this slide show is just
going to run while I talk. Because there’s so
much information, you can’t possibly do justice
to it in a few minutes. The slides will help. Many of these are from
professional photographers of Faith Charity Nelson
and also Valena Dismukes. Also Allan Alston and
Rebecca Parker, who are here, contributed some of the slides. And you’ll see one image
by Rose Paliton [phonetic], the artist who is
sitting in the front row. And if you can’t tell who that
is, just look to the front row and there is someone who looks
most decidedly like an artist. So welcome, dear friend, Rose. Red Black Spirit Medicine. This story is personal and at
the same time representative of the spiritual journey of
many persons of mixed triracial or red-black heritage. Perhaps for me, it
begins in my childhood in Prince George’s
County, Maryland. On the banks of a stream
that fed the Anacostia River. Long before I ever thought
about being a scholar of African-American
literature and culture. When I was a child, we lived
in a house in the woods just on the banks of Indian Creek. The boundary between our black and mixed-race community
and another world. A world that was largely white. But throughout this region in the time before there was a
beltway, there were communities like ours with tightly
interwoven kinship relations. My father taught me how
to cup my hands to drink from a metal bucket
or clear spring. How to set traps for rabbits
and how to find the North Star. The older men moved like shadows
in and out of the forest, emerging with squirrel, rabbits
and occasionally other game. I roamed the woods and wetlands,
watchful for water moccasins and dangerous sinkholes. We farmed the land
growing corn, beans, squash and occasionally melon. We caught and cooked the
eels from Indian Creek, frying them up in hot grease to
eat with hominy and succotash. In the spring, my father’s
mother would prepare a physic of pokeweed, a poisonous
plant that I learned to pick before its
purple berries formed. And Dad would head down
into Southern Maryland with my mother’s Gus
and butler cousins for the spring herring run. Dad and Cousin Amos Gus
caught lots of herring, and they salted them down
and preserved in a barrel. Only later did I learn that the
food practices of my family, such as the salting of
herring and the growing of the three sisters
were tangible signs of the cultural interaction
of red and black people. My mother’s mother
was a red-brown woman who could heal ailments
with plants from the forest. This she learned from
her grandmother, Nana, who as my grandmother told
me, had long black hair, hair long enough to sit on. From my paternal grandmother, I learned about my great-great
grandfather Peyton Harrison, Black and Indian who
came up from Virginia. He told my grandmother
that his people were some of the Jamestown Africans. Sometimes, as I roam
through the woods or dug clay from the stream bank, I did
wonder where the Indians for whom Indian Creek
was named had gone. But then my mind would
return to the present and the pending threat of
integration, which had not yet occurred but
was looming over us. In those days, colored children from Southern Prince George’s
County came all the way up into Lakeland to attend
our Colored Lakeland School. No one was black back then. We were all Colored with a
capital C. Call somebody Black, you’re going to start a fight. Those proctored [phonetic]
children, they didn’t associate
with us much. We thought they were strange
with their straight hair and their standoff ways. Only recently did
I learn that many of the proctors now
self-identify as Piscataway Indians. And only when urban renewal
conspired to take what I thought of our land there on
Indian Creek did I begin to appreciate the convergence
of things I had seen and the stories I had heard. It was these stories of my
ancestors in the Chesapeake that fueled my desire to
learn more about the Weyanoke, both as a scholar and as
a symbolic descendant. In time, I learned that Weyanoke
is at once a people, a place or places and incorporated
association and ritual ground where the collective historical
trauma of colonialism. The enslavement of black and
Native people and the trauma of separation and
exclusion gets repaired through collective
healing prayers, music, ritual and the intentional
coming together of persons prepared to
celebrate red-black connections. The name Weyanoke itself means
sassafras, a medicinal tree used for healing purposes by indigenous people
transported Africans and European colonists alike. And today, the Weyanoke
Association is first and foremost a site of healing. The Chesapeake or Great
Shellfish Bay was the site of the Weyanoke Plantation
in Virginia, where the first Africans in
the English Americas lived in community dating from 1619. Transported to the Chesapeake
region through Point Comfort, near present-day Hampton
and from thence to Jamestown and from there on to the
Weyanoke Plantation named for the indigenous
people who lived nearby, the 1619 Angolan Africans began
their lives in close proximity to an Algonquian-speaking
people whose ancestors had been in the region for at least
1,600 years before the English colonizers arrived. The Africans learned to hunt
and fish with the Weyanoke, lighting fires in
their canoes at night to warm their hands
and to attract fish. There were many similarities between the indigenous
read people and the transported Africans. Each was subjected to
“colonialism, social disorder and upheaval for
hundreds of years and to being called savages. The object of this immense and
intense culture interaction and it’s resultant degradation
is the Weyanoke Association website points out, was
to take the red man’s land and use the black man’s
labor to work that land.” On the positive side, the indigenous Native
American people and Africans alike had oral
traditions that allowed for the preservation of
ancestry and records. And the conveying of
identity and knowledge through the cultivation
of deep listening skill and respect for the elders. These were skills that
could spell the difference between physical
survival and annihilation. As folkways had the power to
give direction and guidance from ancestral knowledge, even when no ancestor
was physically present. And in many ways, the
Africans’ spirituality and cosmology may have
been compatible with that of their original
indigenous hosts, along with their musical
traditions and practices of midwifery or biology
and other forms of traditional healing. Both peoples had
priests, conjurers, diviners and midwives. Each had a closeness and an interdependent
relationship to the land. By following the language
of the way that black and red people are described
in colonial Virginia laws, it is possible to see how
ideas of race changed over time and were used as tools
to divide two people who had much in common. As documented by Arica Coleman
in her award-winning book, That the Blood Stay
Pure, African-Americans, Native-Americans and the
predicament of identity in Virginia, relations between
indigenous persons and persons of African dissent in Virginia
have often been troubled with Virginia’s Racial Purity
Act disrupting relationships among individuals,
families, churches and tribes. Today, the Weyanoke Association
founded by Hugh and Anita Herald in 1999 on the 380th anniversary
of the landing of Africans in Virginia has become a site
of memory and spiritual healing for those simultaneously
remembering, navigating and reconciling with this
rich and complicated past. When I speak of red-black
spirit medicine, I am speaking of medicine that originates with
red or black people that is good for black-red people, or anyone
else who needs the physical, emotional or psychological care that red-black spirit
medicine can provide. Think of it as complementary
care for the body, mind and spirit. Think of it as redress, to
use Saidiya Hartman’s term, or soul repair for the
intersecting layers of violence and historical trauma and spirit
murder, to borrow from the work of Nell Painter and later
Kelly Brown Douglas. The work of Jack Saul has shown that collective trauma
is often best addressed in community with others. That is what the Weyanoke
Association achieves in their annual coming
together gatherings and powwows. The healing may attract
physical health, excuse me, may impact physical
health or just the spirit. I felt that healing personally when Hugh Harrell poured a
fresh pot of sassafras tea, and we sat down in a home rich
with art and ritual objects from both African and
indigenous culture. And Anita Harrell read
a poem called It isn’t Identity Politics. Here’s the poem. I am Anita Harrell. I am Moon Dancer. I am the daughter of Allene
[phonetic] Davis Alan. I am the daughter of
Annie Miles Davis Heron. I am the great-granddaughter
of N.E. [phonetic] Smith Miles. I am the great-great
granddaughter of Lavenia Smith. Because of them, I am Shoshone. Because of them, I am loved. Because of them, I am strong. Because of them, I
am who I say I am. I am Moon Dancer. I am Anita Harrel. Who are you? And then she said, if you
use a blood quantum approach, you are essentially
committing suicide, end quote. Hugh, a descendant
of many generations of Charles City County
red-blacks agrees. He says, we’ve been doing
what we’ve been doing because we had to. There’s no emphasis
in local schools on teaching children
their history. Anita added, I know
Erica started her work, this is Dr. Arica Coleman, I
know Erica started her work after coming to one
of our gatherings. There’s an alignment
with the ancestors. Things happening beyond
our control, end quote. Each year, on the second
Saturday in August, to coincide with the
anniversary of their arrival of the first Africans
in Virginia, the Weyanoke Association
sponsors the Coming Together Festival, the Lincoln legacy of
Native and African-Americans. To embark on a journey to a Weyanoke Coming
Together Festival, one must leave physically
the spaces and places of colonization and go into the
wilderness, up into the woods in Charles City County
or Surry County into historically
red and black spaces. One leaves Richmond, the
capital of the Confederacy or colonial Williamsburg,
literally and historically the
colonial capital. From Williamsburg,
one drives west on Route 5 past Weyanoke
Plantation where Yardley hid most of
the 19 Angolan Africans who were imported illegally
into Jamestown in 1619. And then on past
Berkley Plantation where Benjamin Harrison
traded extensively with indigenous people. And some Weyanoke
people lived in houses on that Harrison property. There, on the Weyanoke
Peninsula, just five miles from the place where the
indentured Africans formed their first community. In fact, many of the Coming
Together gatherings have been held as the Harrison
National Fish Hatcheries, part of the original
Harrison Estate, which keeps the historical
continuities tight. To go to Coming Together, one
travels through greenspaces and through symbolic geography
and psychic landscapes to become removed,
sheltered and inoculated. To claim and be reclaimed. Once arrived, the healing can
begin in ways large and small in spaces where the mind
can begin to be decolonized, and everyone is invited
to break bread and enjoy the transcendent
rhythms of sacred drums, healing songs and chants, processions honoring the
ancestors and dancing. The protocol of Coming
Together includes both African and Native elements. Everyone is welcome. But one must be intentional
about the choice to make the journey to go there. Walking in a Weyanoke procession and hearing the transcendent
rhythms of two cultures can
be a powerful source of reconnection and renewal. Especially for one who
has read in black roots. There is medicine in
the knowledge shared, in the smudging, in the
libations, in the prayers, in the food, in the belonging. For me, the Who’s Afraid of Black Indians poems,
talk about a slip. For me, the Who’s Afraid
of Black Indians poems of Weyanoke Association member
Shonda Buchanan are restorative. Not unlike the narrative
medicine I’ve taught at William & Mary and Eastern
Virginia Medical School, there is more medicine
in the photographs of Faith Charity Nelson
and Valena Dismukes and in the paintings
of Rose Paliton and the pottery of
Lynnette Allston. Beyond this, Anita Harrell
has taken her healing rituals into her work as a family
system’s constellations therapy facilitator, and similar
therapies were recently employed in a Braxton Institute advanced
training seminar for 100 helpers and healers seeking
training in moral injury and collective healing
in September 2017. African-American and Native-American healers have
access to knowledge, culture and power when we stand in our
own medicine and our own truth. I conclude with a prayer from the Weyanoke
Association website. We give thanks to the
Creator for each new day. We give thanks to the
ancestors who watch over us. We give thanks to our Mother
Earth who sustains us. We give thanks to our brothers
and sisters, the plants and animals, who give our lives
so that ours may continue. We give thanks to the
people who’ve work, care and love nourish us. We give thanks that [inaudible]
and Turtle Island meet in us. We give thanks to the Creator
for all of these gifts. May they be transformed into
positive thoughts, careful and kind words, appropriate
and effective deeds. Aho [phonetic], [Foreign
Language] Amen.>>Aho.>>Joanne M. Braxton: Aho. Thank you. [ Applause ] I’m going to shift now to
our panel discussion mode. There’s no graceful way
to pick up index cards. Before we get started, I would
like to acknowledge the presence of Nancy Rodriguez and
Uri [phonetic] Mulligan from Commemoration 2918,
American Evolution. Would you please stand up? [ Applause ] Thank you for your
support of this program. Dr. Newby-Alexander,
we began working on our collaborative 2019
commemoration efforts in preparation for the 400th
anniversary of 1619 way back in 2012 when we collectively
convened the first 1619 and Making of America conference
at Norfolk State University. Since that time, we have
constituted ourselves as a learning community,
a kind of think tank for revisiting the discussion
of 1619 and its impact and significance in
American history. So our team has been
working on this for years. Why?>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:
You know, it is a difficult story. What we have to do is
deconstruct the way in which we see our
nation’s history. The center of the
story has focused on the European descendants. And everyone else has been
left out or completely ignored. And so we brought together
not only scholars but people in the community to
tell a different story. To tell a story that’s
really who we are. And we started with asking the
question, who are we really? And all you have to do
is peel back the layers of your own family’s
history and legacy to know that the story you tell your
children is not the real story. You tell the good. You tell the part of that
story that makes you proud, that makes you feel
like you have ownership. But our story is
much more complex. And so in retelling a story, in pulling all the
different layers out, the need to be removed, and putting into that
narrative what really needs to be there, it takes a while. And as you can see even
in today’s politics, people are afraid of that story. But that’s the story
that makes us strong. That’s the story
that makes us unique. That should be the story
that makes us proud.>>Joanne M. Braxton: Thank you. In connection with the original
2012 1619 and the Making of America conference
at Norfolk State, I interviewed Dr. Maya Angelou,
and I’d like to bring her into the room with us right now. I asked why should 1619 be on
our minds as we face forward into the 400th anniversary
of the arrival of Africans and women in the English
colony of Virginia? What are the enduring
questions raised by this pivotal moment in time? And now, I’m quoting Dr.
Maya Angelou who said, “We have an old saying that has
become a cliché and that is, you can’t know where
you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. It is imperative,” she said, “that all Americans
recognize the imprint of the first Africans
brought here and the first white women
brought here in bondage. I’m trying to say
that the word slavery and the term enslavement has
lost so much of its weight, until the people mouth the words without realizing what they’re
saying, what they’re calling up. When you read the history of
the enslavement, the hundreds of years of enslavement,
it’s too dreadful to have even been included in Alex Haley’s phenomena
the book Roots and the television phenomena
Roots in which I,” Maya Angelou “played Kunta Kinte’s
grandmother. Too bizarre. Too horrible,” she says. “And yet, we have to face
it or we will never get rid of this blight of racism and
guilt and hate which assembles in our race in the
21st century.” Panelists, do you
agree with Dr. Angelou? Why or why not? What do you feel are the
enduring questions raised by 1619 for those of
us still here in 2018? Is 2019 another pivotal moment? How can having access to the
past, and in particular, 1619, help us understand the present?>>Who first?>>Joanne M. Braxton:
Dr. Vinson.>>Robert Trent Vinson:
I’ll take a stab at that. Let’s see. So, 2019 is the 400th
anniversary of 1619, which we’re talking about. And so it gives a chance to talk
about Jamestown and to put it into context in terms
of the world. Because on some level,
Jamestown and the context of the Atlantic slave
trade was peripheral. I already mentioned 500,000
Africans had already come across the water. Only 6% of Africans coming
across the water actually came to what became the
United States. The vast majority, over
90%, went to South America, Central America and
the Caribbean. Yet, what developed starting
from Jamestown was ultimately by 1860, the largest slave
society in world history, four million enslaved
people, right. And we have to deal with
that dynamic of how it was that a system of slavery that
has been a global phenomena, it’s in all the ancient
societies, became so heavily race-based. And the system of slavery which
has a classic component, right, appropriating labor to generate
profit for someone else, included a racial component
now to create this kind of racial caste system that
in many ways survived slavery in a legal sense. And so Jamestown gives
us a chance to reflect and shift the narrative, because
if we look at 1619 and we go to 1865, that’s 246 years of
slavery, which is more years than of freedom in this country. And then if you look at
those years of freedom, the great majority of that time,
over 100 years, is Jim Crow. So when we talk about
Jamestown being the beginning of democracy, that’s
from the perspective of propertied white men. Democracy is a rather new
thing in America I would argue. I would argue that we might
have to start thinking about democracy perhaps with
the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And even then, it’s a fragile
thing as we’ve come to know. So we have the largest
prison population in world history as well. And we know those who
are branded as felons, even after they’ve served
their time and paid their debt to society, still very difficult
to get their voting rights back and other rights as well. So 2019 gives us a moment
to reflect on where we are in America and where
America is in the world. That’s the best I can do
with such a deep question.>>That’s the best you can do? [ Applause ]>>Lynnette Lewis Allston: Well,
I want to chime in on that, because in Native America, we deal with what we
call historical trauma. And it’s the mindset, the things
that we have carried with us through the generations
that control how we interact with people, what we say,
what we are afraid to say. Because we feel we, we’re
the lowest of the low. That was what 1619,
1607 began to do to our culture was make
us afraid of who we are. So that historical trauma
is still something we’re dealing with. We are just beginning to talk about our history,
our perspective. And it is a revelation. It is an opportunity to release,
and we look forward to the 2019 to let us have a voice
at the table to talk more about our perspective. [ Applause ]>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:
So I will chime in as well. One of the things that I,
I’m going to compare this to, if you visit a plantation
anywhere in the South in America, you hear the
story of a handful of people who own the plantation,
their lives, their traumas, what they ate, what they
wore, whether they died, whether they had diseases. But you don’t hear anything
about people who made sure that that plantation thrived,
survived, produced the goods. You don’t hear about the trauma
that those individuals endured. You don’t hear about
the work that went into creating this
plantation that thrived. You don’t read about how
these were the individuals who actually built, or
constructed the buildings, planted the fields, maintained
the economic integrity of that particular plantation. For you, the visitor,
they are invisible. They are the side story that you
don’t even really get to hear. And so going back
400 years is critical to the survival of our country. Because we have created such a
false narrative of who we are. We’ve created, sustained
and held on with both hands
this lie about America. This lie about how the
English arrived and bam, there was this gorgeous
creative, incredible nation that sprang out of nothing. With no one else’s help
but the handful of English who first arrived and
their descendants. That’s the narrative
that you hear. But that is a lie. And so it is critical that we
go back and not only deconstruct that lie but tell you why the
truth is far more important and far more of a guide to
who we can be for the future. And so, you know, in history,
sometimes it takes distance from a certain event
for us to really begin to want to face our pain. And today, in today’s
society, you have a number of psychologists
and sociologists who are now studying this
posttraumatic stress disorder that many people of African and Native descent
have been experiencing for the past 400 plus
years in this society. Many people talk about, well, why aren’t African-Americans
thriving like all these other immigrants
coming to this country? Well, none of the other
immigrants have to go through an ongoing process that
African-Americans went through. So it comforts us
to blame the victim for their own victimization and to ignore the
realities of our society. We talk about the
poverty and the alcoholism of the Native peoples, but we
don’t talk about how we put many of them on land that not even
a tumbleweed survives on. And so we, this is the time. This is the time when America
can look back and begin to reconcile itself
with its own truth. [ Applause ]>>Joanne M. Braxton: A couple
more questions before we open it up to everyone. Chief Allston, you used a
term that may be unfamiliar to many folk, and that
term is paper genocide. Would you please explain
what paper genocide means?>>Lynette Lewis Allston: Well,
over time, identity is lost. Within our tribe, we find people
on census records and early on listed IND, Indian. But over time, that IND
changed to mulatto, MU. Or in some instances,
it was changed to white. And in other instances,
it was changed to black. And then we go to the
point that it’s either a W or a C. You’ve effectively
erased an entire culture just by changing the markings
on a piece of paper. The census takers who came to
visit would look at someone and just say oh, I think this
is what this person looks like, and that’s what I’m
going to call them. And so, identity was lost. I referred to the 1924
Racial Integrity Act, which was the final blow
on negative culture. Interesting enough,
there’s something in there called the Pocahontas
exception, which if you happen to be a certain percentage
of Indian, you could still claim
your European heritage. But it was because you
connected back to Pocahontas. So that’s also part of
this identity issue. But that is also something that
affects our Native population because we are afraid to
admit we have some segments of our native community, are
afraid to admit that we are made up of multiple ethnic
or racial background. And paper genocide led us down
that road, and we are happy now that we’re able to
reverse that cycle.>>Joanne M. Braxton: Thank you. Well, we’re just
getting started here. And each of us here on
this stage is involved in some continuing
project or projects that will serve the
commemoration of 1619. We’ll give you a few examples. The Middle Passage Project is
compiling a digital database and interactive map and exhibition charting
the movements and religious practices of
Weyanoke people, Native American and other Native Americans, as well as African
people in Virginia. And this will include
the collection of plant-based healing
practices, medicinal uses of herbs and so forth. This database will
expand opportunities for collaborative
research by new and emerging scholars
in the field. So that’s something
that’s already underway at William & Mary. Trent, what else is
happening at William & Mary?>>Robert Trent Vinson: Well at
William & Mary, November 2019, the exact date is November 5th
through the 10th, November 5th through the 10th, 2019, is
we’re hosting a major conference dealing with the implications
of 1619 going forward. It is bringing together a group
of scholars and lay people. The organization is called
the Association for the Study of the Worldwide
African Diaspora. Shorten that to ASWAD. It’s the major professional
organization for those who study Africa and
the African diaspora. We’re all coming from all
over the world descending on Williamsburg to William &
Mary to engage in reflections on 1619 from Jamestown, but
also in the wider black world. So that, mark your
calendars, November 5th through the 10th, 2019.>>Joanne M. Braxton: And we’re
anticipating about 900 scholars. Is that right?>>Robert Trent Vinson:
About 900 scholars, perhaps even 1,000
if you all show up.>>Joanne M. Braxton: Cassandra, what’s happening
at Norfolk State?>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander: Norfolk State University
is going to continue its 1619 Making of America series
by having a summit. This would be an
international opportunity for us to livestream a conference,
a series of discussions, by scholars throughout
the country and throughout the world, talking about exactly what we
talked about today, which is, what happened beginning
in 1619, and how are we where we are today if we trace
it back to that magical moment, that important moment. And by magical I don’t mean
oh, this is just glorious. But this magical important
moment in our history where things changed, and
they changed much more rapidly than we could ever
imagine today. So, Norfolk State University
is going to be the host to the 1619 Making
of America summit. It is, we are doing
this in collaboration with the 2019 Commemoration
Commission from Virginia, American evolution, to really
help our nation to begin to confront these issues. We will have nationally-known
scholars, speakers and others who will participate. We will also have
breakout sessions where we will livestream
this and connect with not only other scholars but with young people
throughout the country. And so this will be
September 26th and 27th, and on the 28th we will
have an actual tour to take people to
these early sites. So I hope you’ll mark your
calendar and stay in our area from September all the
way through November.>>Robert Trent Vinson:
Hang out.>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:
To participate in all of these wonderful events. And also to help us this year
September 14th and 15th as well as September 16th, we’re
having a graphic novel contest and competition also in concert with the 2019 commemoration
commission. Why? Because we want young
people who are interested, who will read a graphic
novel to actually begin to hear this story about
what actually began in 1619. And it will be a contest in
which not only graphic artists and novelists and illustrators
will be judging this contest, but we would have
historians there looking over the narratives to ensure
that this is accurate history. That their storylines will
follow the correct line so that we can get this story out to the nation
and to the world.>>Joanne M. Braxton: So,
it may be at Norfolk State. It may be at William & Mary,
but you can be sure that all of the folk on this
stage will be involved in supporting the events
you’ve just heard about and programs you’ve
just heard about. So we’re going to take a few
questions from the audience. But then we’re going to
come around at the end to answer one last question
panel members, and I want them to know what that question is in advance while they’re
fielding other questions. And that is, what is the most
significant thing you would like for others to take
away from today’s symposium. So we’ll come back to that. Questions. Please.>>Hi. Hi everybody. Is this working?>>Joanne Braxton:
Give her a hand. Get that.>>It’s working there? Okay, great. Hi, my name is Nichelle
Smith, and I’m with USA Today. I have a couple of questions
that might be really obvious to some here in terms of
History, but I’m beginning to see, as I’m reading
up on 2019 the use of the phrase enslaved
Africans rather than slaves. So I wanted you guys to explain
as I go forth for terminology in terms of how to cover it
why you’re using that phrase.>>Joanne Braxton: This
folk were not born slaves. They had to be made into slaves. There are these places
along the coast, especially in West Africa, and
I’ve seen quite a few of them. And if you’d like to visit
them without going there, you can go to the Middle
Passage Project page on William & Mary
dot edu website, and you can see Elmina
and Cape Coast. Some of these folks were marched
mercilessly from the interior. Maybe a third of the people
who started out on the journey to the sea didn’t make it. Some would be yoked together. People would be yoked
in cockles. People whose health was not good or was failing might be
left in the bush to die. Small children might be
considered liabilities. They might be left
in the bush to die. But a day before, they may
simply have been taking a walk in the woods. You could have been
taking a walk in the woods somewhere near
what is present day Accra today with a loved one, and one of
you could be taken to Elmina. One of you could be
taken to Cape Coast. One of you would go to
a Portuguese territory. One of you would go to
an English territory. And you have a first cousin in Brazil while you’re
in Jamestown. So, so many times the
faces seem similar. And when those people
left through those doors of no return, some of which
were about 15 inches wide, too narrow for you to go through
forward, just straight forward. They would have to march
side-by-side to be able to go through the door. And most frequently, they
were taken out at night because when they
would see the coast of their nation falling away in
the distance in the daylight, some of them would
just stop breathing. And they refused to
be made into slaves. And if you would
go to Elmina, also, you would see there’s a door. There are two doors actually. If you were to stand in the
Dutch reform chapel in Elmina, which is directly over
the women’s dungeon, and you would look out,
you would see two doors. They were for punishment. One was for Europeans who infringed upon some
crime while they were there. And the others were for
Africans who refused to be made into slaves. Over that a door there is
a skull and crossbones. And they would put as many as
four or five people int hat room at a time, these Africans who
refused to be made into slaves. And no one came out of
that door until everyone in that room was dead. You don’t have to
believe my story. You can check it out. It is so utterly
and shockingly true. And the photographs of those
locations are available to you for viewing. So, it’s to acknowledge
the humanity of individuals as human beings, with,
we would presume, inalienably human rights.>>Hello. Thank you,
Dr. Braxton. It’s been wonderful. I’m a student at Montgomery
College under Vincent Intondi, fantastic teacher of
African-American history. Also, I volunteer in the Young
Reader’s Center downstairs. Yay. Yay, kids. I was very interested to
hear you reference Nell Irvin Painter’s concept of Soul
Murder, and I hadn’t heard of the other scholar who
you said had developed –>>Joanne M. Braxton:
Kelly Brown Douglas.>>Kelly?>>Joanne M. Braxton: Brown.>>Brown Douglas.>>Joanne M. Braxton: Douglas.>>And how is she
elaborated on the concept?>>Joanne M. Braxton:
She talks about it in the use of specific cases. I think she talks about people
who have been summarily murdered or executed without
due process of law. And she may have referred
specifically to the case of Eleanor Bumpurs
as an example. Eleanor Bumpurs, some of us will
recall, was an elderly woman in New York City who didn’t
have, had fallen $50 short or something like
that on her rent. And the police came. There was a conflict,
and she ended up dead. And this has happened
too many times. So it’s not just a question of what happens to
the person’s body. It’s a question of what
happens to their spirit. And we have to think really
about the young people who survive physically these
traumatic events but walk away with invisible wounds that
are not unlike the wounds that someone would
sustain on a battlefield. The walking wounded. Is that making sense? But you will be able
to find more precise and abundant references by
consulting her directly. And the other panelists are
available to field questions as well, so feel free to
direct questions toward them.>>Hi, my name is Jama Kelvey
[phonetic], and I wanted to just mention one thing
bout paper genocide. I’m quite worried about
it coming up in 2020. You referenced the census. And there’s a real danger
for all of us to be succumbed or to have paper genocide
happen because the census is in real danger, as I
think you all know. So I wanted to mention that. Professor Vinson,
congratulations at William & Mary has its
first woman president.>>Robert Trent Vinson: Yes.>>Yes indeed. [ Applause ] Yes indeed. Very happy, because she’s coming from my alma mater,
Smith College. So I’m very happy about that. I wanted to address my
question to you though. I was really struck, this is
a statistic I had never heard before about the low percentage
of the African enslaved people who were taken to
Jamestown or North America as opposed to South America. And then you mention, of course, that this American South became
the largest slaveholding society in the world. Can you, this is a very, a
question that you could write and probably have written
thousands of books on, but why, what conditions made
North America the place for the largest slaveholding
society as opposed to South America?>>Robert Trent Vinson: Right. That’s a big broad question that I can give you the short
answer is that slaveholders in South America,
Central America and the Caribbean
basically made a calculus that it was cheaper simply to keep importing
enslaved Africans. And so literally, you know, folk coming into the
Caribbean [inaudible] since the average lifespan
after arriving in the Caribbean, and these are people
in their prime, their high teens, early 20s. The average lifespan of
survival was seven years. And we’re talking about
a population that’s about two-thirds male. So those two dynamics are
simply, it’s cheaper just to work them to death, work them
to death, work them to death, and we’ll just import
more, right. And the gender imbalance meant
that there was a constant, constant influx of
more people coming in. So that was why the
numbers were so much higher. So that was the center of the
gravity for the slave trade. By contrast, North America was
really a type of backwater. And so the way that Angela
and her fellow captors made it to Jamestown was really an
accident of history, right. They were on their way to the
epicenter, in this case, Mexico. And because of those two ships,
they were rerouted, right. And so ultimately, and then
the United States banned the importation of enslaved
people in 1807, even though there was some
illegal activity going on as late as 1859,
short footnote. But the dynamic there was
natural reproduction became the preferred method if
you would, right. And so in that time, we
have tremendous growth. Right. In this way
too, we have to look at the Louisiana Purchase as
an important event as well. That doesn’t happen without
the Haitian Revolution, right. That’s the first thing to say. When Napoleon loses
Santa Mon [phonetic], the largest slave-producing
island for them. That becomes Haiti. Essentially, he has less of a
need for French North America. And he’s trying to
finance his wars in Europe. And so he sells what becomes
the Midwest United States from Louisiana to
Canada for $15 million in the Louisiana Purchase. So Jefferson declares this as
an empire for liberty, right, double the size of
the United States. It really becomes an
empire for slavery because there’s a second
middle passage that happens where a million people and
slave people move from states like Virginia to places like
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama. So doubling the size of the United States also
doubled the size of slavery. And so we had more
territory now, right. So that is why we get the US
South becoming the large slave society in world history. Okay? You’re welcome.>>Thank you. Hello. I’m very interested in
what you all have had to say about collective trauma
in history and the need to dispel false narratives. And I was wondering what
any of you might have to say about the possibility of
reparations playing a role in that, not just
for African-Americans but also potentially Native
Americans with removal and if you feel that
could play a role, how such a conversation
could even be begun.>>Cassandra Newby-Alexander:
I’ll take a stab at that one. What is interesting to me is
whenever you hear the term reparations, reparations
for formerly enslaved people and their descendants,
the nation seems to collectively just go
into trauma themselves. America has a real problem
with acknowledging its role, its guilt in sustaining even
our Constitution, sustaining and perpetuating and
protecting slavery. Most people are not taught that the original
Constitution protected one piece of property, enslaved people. For the rights of those
who were the slaveholders. Because the Fugitive Slave Act,
the three-fifths compromise, all of these things that were in the original Constitution
gave federal protection to slavery. And Virginia, of course,
was the largest state that had the largest
population of enslave people. In fact, for a long time, Virginia had the
largest population. That’s kind of a duh, right,
because it was the first colony. And all these people
that Dr. Vinson talked about being transported to the
lower South, most of them were from Virginia, and
yet, as thousands of people were transported
beginning in the early 1900s to the lower South, the
population in Virginia of Africans and African-Americans
sustained itself. The reproduction was high
because of the kinds of crops that were being produced,
the kinds of industries, so much so that the
primary industry in Virginia by the 1820s and 30s was
the domestic slave trade. That is what Virginia made
most of this money from. And so everything went into
creating more enslaved people and making sure that
they survived to be part of this domestic slave trade. And so when we talk
about reparations, a lot of people focus in on
what happened to enslaved people and how their labor was
used for a long time. But I actually argue that
reparations really should be after 1865, after
the 13th Amendment, after the 14th Amendment when
African-Americans whose rights as human beings was now
federally recognized that the states and
federal government continued to deprive them of their
property, of their civil rights. They began to redline them. They began to make them pay
more money than white Americans for their property,
for their schools, even though their schools were
supposed to be equally funded, or at least funded
by property taxes. They weren’t. In the 1940s, the
Journal and Guide, which was a black-owned
newspaper operating out of Norfolk, Virginia,
published an expose showing that Virginia systematically
took between 2 and $30,000 a year from all
of the counties and cities in which African-Americans
were located. This is money that
African-Americans were paying in taxes to go to their schools,
and they were redirecting that money to the white schools. So we’re not even talking about
paying somebody for labor. We’re talking about real
dollars that were supposed to go to one thing, and they
were put to something else. So reparations is
an important way to start reinfusing our
communities and our society with money that should be there, should have been there
from the beginning. I’m at Norfolk State University,
a historically black college, or what they call black
college and university. And Norfolk State University
was underfunded according to the Virginia governmental
formula for 75 years. For 75 years. And Virginia settled that
underfunding for $10 million, for 75 years of underfunding. What can you do with
$10 million? And I’m not talking about
$10 million in 1870 money. I’m talking about $10
million in the latter part of the 20th century dollars. You can’t even construct part
of a building with $10 million. So reparations to me has been
seen when it comes to people of color as a giveaway. That everybody would get a dime. But that is not what
reparations is all about. It is restoring what was taken, what was forcefully
illegally taken. And how you restore is really, really should be the
discussion line, not whether or not it should be
restored but how. And the way in which it can be
restored can help really enhance our nation. [ Applause ]>>Joanne M. Braxton: So, I’ve been given the high
sign by those above me. And I’d like to close by reflecting myself
on the question. What is the most significant
thing you would like others to take away from
today’s symposium. I would like you to reflect on
today’s panel and the questions that have just started
to surface as an opening of moral space for
a conversation about many kinds of repair. Soul repair, material
reparations, and just a thought about what it means
to be an American and how we became Americans. So this space is open now,
and we’re going to do our best to hold it open through 2019. Please join us. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Travis Hensley: On behalf of
the Kluge Center and the Library of Congress, I’d like to
thank all of our participants, all of you for coming and, you
know, especially Dr. Braxton. She’s been a pleasure to have
with the center, and we’re going to be sad to see her go. So once again, thank you. [ Applause ] So, now we have both a reception
for you all and then a display of items from the Library
of Congress’ collections. You cannot take any food
or drink into the display. My interns are well-trained. So again, I’d just
like to thank you all for coming, and please go enjoy. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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