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tv   400th Anniversary Ceremony - First Africans in Virginia  CSPAN  December 27, 2019 8:00pm-10:32pm EST

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(applause) >> and a reminder
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for those watching a c-span3's american history tv, live coverage getting underway in just a moment, the ceremony that will include the dedication of the fort monroe visitor and education center. among those on hand to speak, virginia governor ralph northam along >> please take your seats. good morning and welcome to the 400th anniversary commemorative ceremony. it is my honor to welcome the governor and the first lady, the lieutenant governor justin fairfax, the attorney general, senator mark warner, and senator tim kaine. u.s. representative bobby scott and a representative from virginia. representative karen bass and from missouri. speaker of the house of delegates, first counsel for the embassy of wanda. the former virginia governor, the former virginia governor robert mcdonald, the former missouri governor greitens, former
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representatives james moran and mf payne, members of the governors cabinet, members of the virginia general assembly, including senate majority leader thomas norment, portsmouth mayor john wrote, the members of the 400 years african american history federal museum, deputy assistant secretary of fish and wildlife parks, national parks service officials, including daniel smith and david vella, members of the hampton city council and other special guests. on behalf of the members of the hampton city council, our city staff, and the residents of this great city, it is my honor to welcome you to old point comfort, freedoms fortress, fort monroe, and now fort monroe national monument in hampton, virginia. today's hamptons is a historic city that is 409 years old. i often tell visitors we don't
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look that old because we have burned to the ground at least twice. from almost its beginning, hampton has been a multiethnic and multicultural city, a model for our nation and the world. at its founding, there were two ethnicities and cultures here in hampton, the english colonists and the indians. just over nine years later, a third ethnicity and culture were introduced, that of africans. in late august of 1619, the white lion arrived at court comfort with cargo it had
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captured in an attack on a spanish slave ship. the virginia colony secretary stated 20 meters were traded for food and supplies. among those first documented africans to be brought to the colony were anthony and isabella. they were married, and in 1624, it is believed they gave birth to the first african child born in america. they named him william tucker. the descendents of anthony and isabella, the tucker family, are with us this morning. this weekend's 400 year anniversary commemoration event began with yesterday's
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ceremony at the tucker family cemetery eight miles northwest of your. another african-american family that is here today can trace its rates to charles city in the mid-1600s. i want to acknowledge the agencies that have planned and executed not just this weekend's commemoration events, but speakers, symposiums, panel discussions, cultural events, and educational seminars over
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the last three years. these are the hampton 2019 commemoration commission, project 1619 incorporated, before monroe authority, the fort monroe national monument, and the 400 years of african-american history federal commission. i would like to recognize kalvin pearson and project 1619. (applause) (applause) who began telling the story of the first african's arrival in hampton, not jamestown. with african lending events annually since august 2008, in closing
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researchers and historians tell us that more than 12 million individuals were taken from the african continent during the atlantic slave trade. between 380000 and 400,000 were brought to the shores of america. we honor and salute those individuals. even my own ancestors, who because of their strength, determination, endurance, perseverance, and resilience survived the capture and months long transport through the middle passage and endeared dehumanization, brutality, and atrocity. to borrow from hebrews, chapter 11, all these people died having faith. they did not receive the
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faith that god had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. they acknowledged they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. today i can imagine that as our ancestors are looking over the battlements of glory and beholding congressional representatives, a lieutenant governor, a state senator, and a mayor who are all african-american, their hearts must be overflowing with joy. >> please welcome the honorable james t moran junior, former congressman from the sixth congressional district of virginia. >> thank you. thank you. nice job. i was revising
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my remarks as you were speaking since you told some of the best stories, but you did it more articulately than i would have. as chairman of the fort monroe authority over the last three years or so, there are several people that deserve to be recognized. i want to make some what i hope are substantive remarks. first of all, and i appreciate your listing so many of them. that does save us a little time. there are a few people i want to give a shout out to. i want to recognize governor ralph northam. i would like to thank him for all the
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efforts and achievements that he has made in the pursuit of racial justice and reconciliation. just as an example that some of you may not be aware of, a number of us on the authority have had a major problem with an arch that exists down the street called the jefferson davis memorial arch. it was designated as historic, although anything that is more recent than i am is really not historic. it was put up in the 1950's. a deliberate act of defiance by the daughters of the confederacy. we wanted it down before we had this commemoration today. the governor used his power to come down one morning and took every one of those letters off of that arch, and if any of you want to see the letters, they are in the museum someplace, and help yourself to read them, but it did not belong here. i also want to call out some
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friends, former governors and senators, mark warner and tim kaine, have done such a terrific job, a couple of other friends in congress, bobby scott, represents this area, as does the elaine luria. bobby is chair of the education and labor committee. karen bass, so good of you to come to this. she is the chair of the congressional black caucus at the national level. she is also chair of the africa subcommittee of the foreign affairs committee. let me mention some of the members of
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the for bone marrow fort monroe authority. they have been wonderful. state secretary brian vall, matt strickler, senator meme lark. doesn't she look resplendent today? mary bunting is on the authority. she is the city manager of hampton. dr. wreck zealous, who had a major role in the establishment of the national exam of african-american history. every single one of you need to go through that museum if you have not. we are
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every day making a closer connection with that museum. dr. hairs. i don't know if any of you have watched the public broadcasting series on reconstruction, but he is continually interviewed, and he does such a terrific job. i have listened to him two or three times and i have thought i know that guy. he has done a great job. thank you. dr. marine is a professor at hampton university. j joseph is
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currently serving as vice chair of the authority. colin campbell is the vice chair. he is recovering a little bit right now. he has been terrific as well. jay is the brother of molly ball who was secretary of natural resources and was instrumental in much of the direction we have taken. i want to recognize clark mercy. he has done such a great job. he is chief of staff to the governor. he has been directly involved. i'm going to come across a number of people. i see attorney general mark herring. of course our vice lieutenant governor is here. all those folks will have an opportunity to speak very the fort monroe foundation have raised money for the business center. everyone of you should
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go through that business center. it is phenomenal day, it's that have been made to put phenomenal day compliments that have been made phenomenal the accomplishments that have been made in such a short period of time. thank you, jack. bill armbruster, jane, and let me mention glenn odor, who is the executive director of fort monroe. i cannot imagine the number of people he and his wife mary have entertained on a weekly if not daily basis. there are so many people that deserve recognition. i'm going to make a few comments so we do not get too far off our schedule. this is an historic place. 400 years ago some of
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the most important decisions that shape our nations future began to be made here. first we pay respects to the native peoples who lived full lives for many generations well before the first english settlers arrived. we also pay respects to those first english settlers, many of whom did not survive. those english settlers carried with them a strong desire for freedom and a better life than the one they knew in their first homeland in europe. today we address the paradox that a land settled right here in the name of freedom was also
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solely at the expense of freedom. we are here to recognize the first enslaved africans were brought ashore to the english colonies in the americas. human beings brought here in bondage to old point comfort where they were treated for provisions. traded for provisions. english settlers, including the first governor who made one of those trades for a couple of those folks, they decided to trade for them as indentured servants, ultimately to be used as slaves. it is this contradiction, this first immoral decision that determined who we virginians became. slaveholders for two and a half centuries. the fact
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that a virginian who became governor and then our third president wrote our bill of rights declaring all people to be equal with an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is a contradiction that undergirds and compromises the america most of us still want us to be, a commonwealth of people who believe in the promise of freedom, justice, and equality for all people. in 1861, at the start of the civil war, three extraordinarily brave enslaved lack men, their names frank banker, james townsend, and shepherd mallory, they sought refuge here by voting into the fort by the cover of night. the federal commander, benjamin butler, remember that name. he is quite an historic figure. he decided not to return those men as fugitive slaves. but to protect them by declaring them contraband of war. releasing them from the ownership of their masters. their masters tried to get them. he explained that you seceded from the union. you are using these men to build fortifications for the confederacy. this is contraband. as the word of that decision went viral by word-of-mouth, the brave act of these three men set off in a norma's reaction. it triggered a migration of many more tens of thousands of enslaved people to seek refuge. their passion for freedom combined with commander butlers shrewd yet honorable respect for justice created the movement that would
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ultimately undermine the institution of slavery and contribute to the preservation of the united states of america, a similar nation willing to fight a bloody, brutal, civil war to enable the emancipation of all of its people. it all happened here at what is now celebrated as freedom's fortress. in 2011, this place where the first enslaved africans were brought to north america in the first concert grands found refuge was declared a national historic place by the first african-american president of america, barack obama. he served his country honorably and competently. we have come a long way. we still have a long way to go to achieve true equality of opportunity, to overcome the residual effects of slavery and jim crow and systemic racial discrimination. the american middle class was formed from the immigrant working-class who successfully defeated the forces of not seize him, fascism, and right-wing nationalists who had taken control of europe in the 1940's. for those working-class americans who fought and won that war, except for the black soldiers who had fought at least as valiantly but were excluded from those benefits.
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today, more than a third of african-american children are living in poverty. the net worth of white families is 10 times that of black families. much of it due to the comparative difficulty black families have securing a home mortgage. prison sentences for the same crime are on average 20% longer for black men. bobby scott knows that so well. a job applicant in the u.s. with a white sounding name is 50% more likely to get a call back from a perspective employer. i could go on and on with these examples of modern-day discrimination. i am not going to do that. i mentioned some of these facts because this should be more than a day to commemorate. it also must be a day to recommit to being one nation, true to our values, our ideals and aspirations. we are
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a great nation, a diverse nation. made of the survivors of a genocide against its first inhabitants, made of immigrants who came to this country, mostly from europe, prepared to hinder discrimination and your discrimination, but who believed that this was a country that would overcome those prejudices, and a country that is made up of the
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descendents of people who were brought in bondage, held as property, treated as subhuman, but who persevered, will triumph, are proving their value and humanity every day, and who will help lead this country out of its ignorance and bigotry and selfishness to a future based on truth and justice and unity. ladies and gentlemen, the courage to
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accept the truth gives us the strength to pursue justice. because we believe what our founding fathers understood, e pluribus unum. that is a phrase on our currency and monuments. it is etched into our national soul. out of the many, there will emerge one nation. out of the many, there will emerge one
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nation. that nation is destined to be as good as it is great. thank you all very much. >> serving as the cochair of the 2019 commemoration, please welcome speaker of the virginia house of delegates the
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honorable kirkland cox. >> thank you. good morning. as cochair of the 2019 american evolution commemoration, it is my honor to welcome you today. let me begin by thanking the cochair of our first african-american to north american english committee. cassandra will stand. she is right here. jackie stone, who is right here. i want to thank jackie. and the entire
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committee for their leadership and guidance. and one other introduction, the general assembly, who i think has done a yeoman's job helping with this commemoration. i will ask that all the members here please stand. a few weeks ago, we commemorated the 400th anniversary of the new worlds first representative assembly. it was a moment where the of remembrance not only for what began, but how far we have come in the 400 years since. certainly the same is true of this anniversary. we commemorate for centuries of african-american contributions that have enriched our commonwealth and country to shape the america we know today. we also note the unspeakable tragedy and awful injustice that marked that beginning. as i said at
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jamestown last month, 161970 beginning of the highs of america but also the lows of america. we are here today to acknowledge the lowest of lows, the forced arrival of africans to english north america on these very shores, which
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tragically was the genesis, the shameful evil that became systematic enslavement based on race. this occasion will challenge us to seek a deeper understanding of our history and also our future. the
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history is all too real. from the shores, the slave auction blocks of richmond, the original sin of slavery left a permanent stain on our commonwealth. from the 20 enslaved people that came ashore at point comfort, virginia's enslaved population would reach 500,000 by 1860, the highest of any state in the union. from these shores to slave auction blocks up and down our coast to the plantations, the original sin of slavery left an indelible scar on our nation. from the 20
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enslaved people that came ashore here, enslaved by permission of the u.s. reached 3 million 950,000 by 1860. no match for the perseverance, fortitude of these enslaved community. no match for the righteous resolve to abolish this evil institution. as strong as the chains of slavery were, they were no match for the human spirit, no match for the ideals of freedom and equality. no match for demanding a more perfect union applied to all americans, not just some americans. african-americans have overcome the legacy of those chains to leave indelible and positive marks on our commonwealth and nation. today we celebrate those contributions, especially
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the achievements of so many outstanding virginians to shape the america we know today. men and women of achievement in industries as diverse as our nation. role models for all americans, like booker t. washington and dred scott and mary elizabeth hauser, doug wilder and henry marsh. henrietta lacks and mary jackson, barbara johns and so many more whose stories we recall this weekend. each of these people has a story of great achievement, overcoming adversity, blazing trails and opening doors. their individual stories are part of this epic story that bring us here today. the story that began that point comfort and saw a nation and people in civil war and reconstruction, through jim crow and the civil rights movement to where we are today and what we hope to become tomorrow. as we gather, the future is in our hands. what will we do to shape and mold the future of virginia? today we will hear perspectives, viewpoints, histories and more that are part of a much needed dialogue, one where american evolution has worked diligently to foster this commemoration. hopefully that dialogue will allow us to go from contradiction to reconciliation, from the sins of the past to a brighter future and a more
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perfect commonwealth as part of a more perfect union. we know our history does not always live up to our ideals. we also know our future can. with god's help it will. thank you. >> thank you, gentlemen. please stand for the presentation of colors by the seventh transportation for gate color guard from language used this followed by the pledge of allegiance. >> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. >> please remain standing as we welcome ms. chelsea griffin, vocalist and songwriter from hampton, virginia, who will perform the national anthem. ♪ ♪
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>> o say can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming whose
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broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? and the rockets'red glare the bombs
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bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there o say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? (music) (music) ♪ ♪ >> please remain
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standing for the invitation authored by dr. joseph green jr. pastor and cofounder of the antioch assembly in pennsylvania, and chairman of
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the 400 years of african-american coalition. >> good morning. it is a privilege to be here before you on behalf of the 400 year african-american history commission. all the commissioners have one of these very beautiful pieces of garment that was custom-made in ghana and sent to us, so we are very appreciative of that. on behalf of my family, my wife, mother, my daughter, and my granddaughter and the reason i
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mention eden is because we are here today to honor our ancestors. we are also here to write a new history for our children's children. >> yesterday i was at the tucker family memorial, and i was so taken by the heaviness and the weightiness of that. it was such an honorable occasion, and i appreciate you for sharing. but they seem scripture that came to my mind while i was at the tucker family cemetery is the same scripture i think is appropriate for today, so as we invoke the lord's presence in these events, i would have you turn well, you don't have to turn to your bibles. i will just read it for you. >> my preacher kicked in just now. turn to your neighbor and say he's going to preach this morning. the book of joshua, 4: 4, " then joshua called a man from each tribe and said to them, pass on before the ark of the lord your god in the midst of jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder according to the number of the tribes of the people of israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, what do those stones mean to you? you shall
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tell them that the waters of the jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the lord when it passed over the jordan. the waters of the jordan were cut off, so these stones shall be to the people of israel a memorial forever." let us pray. heavenly father, we come here today to honor a sort of memorial stone. we come here to acknowledge our passage here to this land. although the conditions were not good and the track was treacherous, you sustained us. you kept us. the journey has been rocky and there have been many dark days, but you were with us. we thank you today father, that we did not come here to celebrate this past, but to commemorate your faithfulness. we come here to honor your strong right hand that watched over us. through our tears and fears, we knew that we would survive, so we celebrate the god of abraham, isaac and jacob, the god of our fathers. celebrate our fathers
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that believed for it they could not see. we look at the past four a means of hope for the future. as you were with moses and joshua, we know you will are with us. we come to you with the unwavering will of our fathers, who bent, but did not break. we know the strength come of the will and fortitude flows through our veins. as we move forward, we seekers we seek your peace and comfort, and know that the possibilities are endless. the oath conferred is not yet destroyed. help us to love and to dream together. let us walk in forgiveness, love and unity. let us never waver. we speak your peace and your joy. we pray with expectation, and with the belief that our latter is much brighter than our former. we are here because we have the chance to write a new history, a history of hope, love and unity. we put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. let us never forget so that we don't repeat our mistakes. we forgive because we are forgiven, and we thank you
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for the great future that lies ahead of us. in the mighty and majestic name of jesus, we pray amen. >> amen. >> you may be seated. please welcome the honorable timothy kaine, united states senator and former governor of virginia, to offer special remarks. >> good morning, friends. it is an honor to stand for you on such an important day. i want to thank all assembled, but particularly the federal four hundred years of african-american history commission. i played a role
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with congressman scott and senator warner in passing the federal legislation to recognize this momentous occasion, and i am deeply moved to be with you today. what does this day mean? in searching for a way to describe its significance, i didn't have the words, but i was drawn to the words of a wonderful virginian, oliver white hill, the pioneering civil rights attorney who i came to know when i was a young civil rights lawyer beginning my career in richmond 35 years ago. mr. hill was born in richmond in 1907, as virginia commemorated the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the english settlers at jamestown. he entered the world into an ironclad, segregated virginia that had
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just passed the constitution to guarantee discrimination against all people of color. from the day of his burst passed the constitution to guarantee discrimination against all people of color. from the day of his birth, he set out as an elected official, as a civil rabble-rouser, mr. hill helped win the brown v. board of education case, and was awarded the presidential medal of freedom in 1999. mr. hill lived an entire century, and lived to see a very different genia commemorate the 400th anniversary of the jamestown settlement in 2000 settlement in 2007. as governor, i made sure mr. hill got to meet queen elizabeth as she and prince philip visited the capital the week after he turned 100 years old. when mr.
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hill passed away three months after that visit, we honored him by having his body lay in state in the governor's mansion. >> the commonwealth that was set like a stone against him at his birth accorded him its highest honors at his death. mr. hill grappled with the significance of 1619. in fact, he organized the symposium in jamestown 50 years ago, september 1969, to grapple with what we are grappling with today, the monstrous tragedy of slavery and its deep and lasting consequences. mr. hill wrote an autobiography into thousand, and chose a very unusual title. the autobiography is called, "the big bang." the book's theme was the evolution of mankind and the need for a continuing american evolution. i can think of no better way than to describe the significance of the african slaves at point comfort in august, 1619. it was the big bang. in physics, the big bang is posited as the
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violent event that began the universe. with massive consequences that still linger. it was a starting point, but the process commenced with the big bang is not yet complete. the birth of slavery in our nation was equally violent, both at its start and for the next 246 years, and its debilitating consequences linger in our collective soul. ed occurred precisely at the same time as the birth of legislative democracy in our nation, so beginning in 1619, virginia legislators and judges help build a legal architecture enshrining slavery on our shore, just as a virginian just as the virginian proudly proclaimed the truth that all people are created equal. this dualism of high-minded principle and indescribable cruelty has defined us, and the war between our principal and the prejudice that we still cling to continues to define us. we cannot tell the story of our nation without speaking about its indigenous peoples. we cannot tell the story of our nation without speaking about its immigrant character, as drawn from the experiences of
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spanish settlers of 1565, english settlers of 1607, french settlers of 1608, and the waves of others who freely arrived in their appointed time from all corners of the world. but neither the indigenous nor the immigrant story is the full story of america today. when the first africans arrived into the english new world in 1619 on these very acres, our nation now contains the powerful combination of indigenous emigrant indigenous, immigrant, and enslaved. and that mixture began the big bang creating america as we know it today. i want to close with a feeling that i have a very hard time putting into words. the transatlantic slave trade was
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one of the most cruel atrocities ever perpetrated by humankind.
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>> and yet, and yet, how fortunate we are as a country that the descendents of that cruel institution, those american slaves and all who followed, are still here and part of our country. it is impossible to imagine an america without the courage and the spirit and the accomplishment of the african diaspora. >> america would be so much poorer without our african roots. what does it mean to say that monstrous tragedy in the passage of time may sow the seeds of great beauty? and so we gather here,
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400 years later, in a nation of resilient indigenous people who still face mighty struggles, in a country of immigrants who too often face shouts to go back for they came from go back where they came from, where the burden of slavery and discrimination still act as a shackle burdening african-americans, and were faced with the conflict between our high-minded principles and the realities that we sinful humans often accept or even perpetrate. how might we move forward? mr. hill concluded the big bang concluded "the big bang" with this quote. "many of our problems stem from several inadequacies. one is a lack of
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understanding of evolution and the inevitability of change. instead of opposing change, we should try to directly change in a constructive direction." >> the second inadequacy he talked about is this. "the second is the lack of a model for the type of environment we need for a truly civilized society. we need to work assiduously to correct this defect." one way to do that is to promote in the 21st century a renaissance in human relationships. he concluded his autobiography with, "that's where i am now." i hope that's where we are now. it is on each of us to understand our nations history, and as mr. hill said, direct the change towards a better future. we can't do it silently. we can't do it from the sidelines. let's honor our
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african roots by finally living up to the ideal come the american ideal, that we are all created equal, and that we all deserve to live free. thank you. >> please welcome the honorable mark warner, united states senator and former governor of virginia, to offer special remarks. >> good morning. it is a real honor for me to join so many friends on this platform and so many friends in this audience to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first african landing. i think as other speakers have already mentioned, this commemoration challenges us to reject the simplistic versions of our history, and quite honestly,
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confront the complicated truth. the truth is our commonwealth is both the birthplace of representative democracy and of american slavery. our nation's constitution enshrined both the ideals of liberty and justice, as well as america's original sin. frederick douglass spoke about this contradiction a few weeks after the dred scott decision. he said that american slavery endured not because of any paper constitution, but in the moral blindness of the american people. now, in the programs over this weekend, we remember the first landings of
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enslaved africans. we come face-to-face with that moral blindness that existed not only in 1619 or in 1776, but unfortunately even today. the truth is our founders'idea of representative democracy did not include looking at this audience, most of you who are sitting out here today, but if they knew that the descendents of the people america had enslaved would one day be free, and that they would challenge our nation to finally live up to our founding ideals, well, that might give us all a little bit of comfort. we honor the heroes of that struggle today. of that struggle today, as well
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as the men woman who are lost to history. we recognize the men and women who are lost to history. we recognize that 1619 marked the first chapter in the 400 year history of african-american history. that african-american history is absolutely central and essential to both the history of virginia and the history of our country. >> finally, what we do here today is a recognition that is long overdue. tim made mention of some of the time when he was governor. i remember when i was governor, and my youngest daughter was at that point in second grade, walking around capitol square with my wife.
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capitol square is kind of the front yard for any of us who had the honor to live in the governor's mansion. as my daughter walked around, looking at all these statues and this was not 200 years ago, 100 years ago this was 21st century, and she said, where is the statue of rosa parks? my wife lisa but quickly and said, well, rosa parks is not from virginia. >> >> but capitol square, in 2002, the only memorial, the only statues were of dead white men, and the majority of them confederates. that's not 1960's. that's not 1770's. that's not 1619. that's 2002. so with senator henry marsh, we
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set about and built the virginia civil rights memorial. when it was unveiled in 2008, it was a historic occasion, but also fairly bittersweet. the truth is it shouldn't have taken more than 50 years to honor barbara johns in capital square. -- >> >> but it is also people to it is also equally true that there should never have been an occasion where barbara johns had to walk out of a dilapidated high school to ask for equal rights in virginia. >> >> it is a reminder that no monument or no legislation or no court case kenny race the stain of slavery. court case can erase the stain of slavery. it will never be that easy. american democracy for all men and women entitled to equal
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citizenship is actually a very recent creation. as others have mentioned as well, it was in our commonwealth where, and places like prince edward county, communities shut down their schools rather than be integrated during massive resistance. we have made progress as a nation, but the progress is recent, it is incomplete, and that progress will only endure as long as all of us remain committed to both defending it and promoting it. >> >> two years ago, in a country and a commonwealth where we thought we had made so much progress, we saw violent forces of hate and/displayed hate and backlash displayed in charlottesville. this had a lot of us asking, is this who we are? well, that history
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confronts us today, and reminds us that the answer is complicated. but one answer is absolutely true. what happened in charlottesville is not who we should be. >> >> and i believe all of our leaders have a moral responsibility to speak up and demand america deliver on its promise of liberty and justice for all. that's why this commemoration in the national conversation is fostering conversation it's fostering is so important. if we are going to be a country that truly lives up to our founding principles, we need to tell the whole truth about our history, the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly as well. >> >> so as we mark this commemoration of the first african landing, it is my hope that this will be a moment to
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both comfort the afflicted, but also afflict the comfortable. thank you so much for letting me be part of this important ceremony today. thank you. >> >> to share special remarks, please welcome the honorable united states house of representatives for the 37th congressional district of california and chair of the congressional black caucus. >> good morning, everyone. want to thank the people of virginia to organize a series of events to commemorate the arrival of enslaved africans. i want to thank all of the community and elected leaders here for the invitation to perhaps abate on behalf of the 55 never strong
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congressional black caucus. this is the largest number of african-americans ever elected to congress, and in congress, cbc embers hold major positions of leadership and havoc on list significant change and have accomplished significant change. the most significant victories of the year with a call list by your own representative bobby scott >> >> he is the chair of one of the most important committees in congress, the committee governing the nation's education system. he led and is leading the effort to raise the nation's national minimum wage. >> >> let me acknowledge another
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member of the congressional black caucus who is in the audience with us today, representative lacy clay from the great state of missouri. >> today we commemorate the anniversary of the arrival of africans, but earlier this month, a delegation of numbers of the congressional black caucus led by speaker nancy pelosi traveled to ghana, west africa to pay homage to our ancestors and visit where they were held captive before they began that horror filled journey. before they were captured, they lived in villages with sophisticated levels of organization. many
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were skilled craftsmen, farmers, healers, and leaders. they were first taken from villages and forced to walk hundreds of miles to dungeons. our delegation visited these dungeons that looks like the old european forts, and in many parts of the world. the two we visited, ironically, are in a beautiful part of the country right on the beach. it was a solemn and emotional experience to enter the dungeon, to close our eyes and imagine what our ancestors experienced. an added challenge we all faced was the mystery of knowing that our ancestors were held captive
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there, but that we had no knowledge of who they were. captured africans were stripped of their languages, ethnic identities, tribal and family ties. we saw the areas of the dungeons that were large enough to hold about 50 to 100 people, but where hundreds were held. rooms without sunlight, forced to lay in their own excrement, no access to water to bathe, only given enough food and water to keep them alive, but deliberately kept in a weakened state so they could not organize a resist organize or resist. those who did attempt to resist were mutilated, left in separate rooms, and slowly starved to death. females were routinely made to stand in line while their captors would choose one of them. she was then washed and lead up a staircase to a bedroom, where she was rape and then returned back. the men, women and children were held in the dungeons for months, awaiting the time they would be forced onto boats that would begin a journey that would last for months. we seen the drawings of hundreds of people stuffed onto ships, and heard the stories of what happened on their journey, when individuals became too sick or died, or women to g or women but gave birth. they were forced overboard to the sharks that followed along. the rest were forced to live their lives as property. it is difficult to believe that this level of
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brutality lasted for hundreds of years and affected millions of african, but when we stood in the dungeons filled with sadness, our heads lowered, reliving or trying to imagine what they went through, at the very same time, we lifted our heads and our chests were filled with pride and amazement at the strength and resilience of our ancestors. >> and here we are today on what can be described as hallowed ground in our nations history, but i would guess that most of the nation doesn't even know the story of the hallowed ground we stand on today. that we would arrive here first, and generations later would escape enslavement and seek protection right here. at the nation's first african-american president would make this his first does nation for a national monument. >> in spite of years of enslavement, there would be 57 african-americans
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in congress representing all of america. >> i only wish the entire nation could witness what you are doing here today, the history of fort monroe, how you have honestly acknowledged all of our nation's history, not just the parts that make us feel good, but the difficult parts as well. i can't tell you what it feels like for me to sit here. this is my first time here, but the emotion i feel in listening to the speakers tell the truth. >> tell the truth. the sad thing about our nation and why we continue to have the issues we do is because we have denied part of our history, and
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i believe that if the entire nation could experience, could learn, and understand our true and full history, we might not be witnessing the resurrection of hate. thank you so much for the honor of speaking here today. >> now, please welcome the honorable robert c. scott, united states house of representatives for the third district of virginia. >> good morning. i'm honored to join
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all of you here on this historic and solemn day. i want to thank everyone here who made this commemoration possible and who traveled with us today, especially my distinguished colleague from california, karen bass. >> you can't imagine the ones that came here the ones that came here 400 years ago could not imagine us speaking in recognition of this day, so i want to give karen bass another round of applause for being with us today. >> i also want to welcome the commissioners from the 400 years of african-american history commission. senator kaine was very generous in giving everybody credit but himself. of course, it was his
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vision and leadership that created this commission. give senator kaine another round of applause. >> slavery first arrived on our shores at 400 years ago. the forced labor of enslaved africans and their descendents built this great nation and is part of our complicated history, with which we continue to wrestle. over the past 400 years, descendents and others who have followed the first 20 and odd africans have made significant contributions to all aspects of american history. as we continue to work in addressing inequality and education, incarceration and criminal justice, income inequality and tax and voting rights, we also pause to celebrate the incredible resiliency of those africans and their descendents. it is in that spirit that i've been asked to discuss one
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individual whose fight for justice has much to teach us today. when i'm introduced at public gatherings, it is often mentioned i am the first african-american to represent virginia in the u.s. house of representatives since reconstruction. >> and only the second in the history of the commonwealth. the first was john mercer langston, who, after successfully contesting his election in 1988, was finally seated as a representative in 1890, 103 years before i began my first term in congress. that would not have been possible if it had not been for those who fought to pave the way. the first black senators and representatives elected like langston, after the war and during reconstruction, as well as those who put their lives on the line to advance civil rights and defend voting rights
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for african americans. but even before becoming virginia's first congressman, john mercer langston had already left a mark on our commonwealth and our nation as a student, abolitionist, patriot, lawyer, educator, diplomat, and public official. in 1829, langston was born a free man in louisa county virginia, and later moved to ohio. langston's brother insured he received a good education, and graduated from oberlin college and became one of our nations first black attorneys and first black elected officials. he was the town clerk in ohio. as an abolitionist, langston risked his life to assist those escaping slavery along the underground railroad. as a patriot, he joined frederick douglass and other abolitionists to recruit black men to fight for the union and turn the tide of the civil war. as an educator, he helped establish howard universitys law school's howard university
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law school, the nation's first black howard university law school, the nation's first black law school. langston also served as the first president of what today is virginia state university in petersburg. >> langston was encouraged by both whites and blacks to run for the u.s. health the u.s. house of representatives in 1888. it was first thought that he lost, but he contested the results. he was eventually declared the winner, and he took his seat in 1890, only able to serve the few remaining months in his
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term. he lost his bid for reelection, but he had already left on indelible mark on the cost of freedom on the cause of freedom. a portrait of john mercer langston hangs in my office, a reminder of one of the visionary black americans whose dogged pursuit of equity hope shape a more perfect union. we may never know all of the names and stories of the men and woman who were brought here at point comfort in 1619, but as we remember, mourn, and honor them, let's also remember the trailblazers like john mercer langston, who believed in and fought for a nation to live up to its creed. i hope that reflect in on our nation's complicated history reminds us of our responsibility to work to achieve liberty and justice for all. thank you. (applause) (applause) >> please welcome the honorable l angel area
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united six representative for the second district of virginia. >> good morning. 400 years ago, our commonwealth was the site of a pivotal historical first. we recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of the first legislative session in jamestown. this event led to representative democracy in america and continues to influence our society for the better. but american history isn't all uplifting and convenient. in fact, it is messy and complicated. our past contains difficult truths that we must learn from so that we can be empowered and equipped to correct today's injustices. one of those difficult truths is that our commonwealth, specifically fort monroe, the land we are standing on now, is the site of where the first enslaved africans in british north america arrived 400 years ago. today we remember this history that continues to shape our nation. we also honor the
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bravery of those who escaped slavery here. frank baker, shepherd valerie, and james kelson, who paved the way for thousands more. as one of the several representatives here and have to and roads, i am proud that fort romo serves as a symbol of the courage and heroism that emerged from america's original sin of slavery. from a military community perspective, we know the fight for freedom is one that has been waged with great cost, including many thousands of african-americans from virginia who have contributed to the safety, security, and freedom of this nation. many came from or fought in hampton roads communities. we are
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reminded of men like william harvey carney, born into slavery in norfolk. mr. carney joined the union army during the civil war and made his mark during the 1863 assault on fort ragnar in charleston in on fort wagoner in charleston, south carolina. he raised the flag high and kept marching despite his own multiple wounds. he made his way back to the union side, never once dropping the flag. his actions were an inspiration to his fellow soldiers. unfortunately, mr. carney had to wait until 1900, 37 years, to receive recognition for his efforts. by then, other african-americans had received medals of honor, but because his actions had occurred first, mr. carney is considered to be the first african-american medal of honor
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recipient. >> african-americans who fought for american freedom must be remembered in part because they themselves were not free, nor did they benefit from the liberties given to other americans. clearly, their sacrifice went above and beyond. as president obama once said, " fort monroe played a role in some of the darkest and most heroic moments in american history. we have the power to transform symbols of injustice into bastions of hope and knowledge. that's why fort monroe is" so important. as we listen to the compex history of our community, let us remember the past so we can pave the way for a brighter future. above all, let's recommit together
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towards a better america. thank you. >> >> please welcome to the podium, the 73rd governor of virginia, the honorable ralph northam. gov. northam please be seated gov. northam: please be seated. good morning. what a beautiful setting this is. i thank you for the privilege of speaking at fort monroe today. as a former member and vice chairman of the fort monroe
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authority, it is always a pleasure to be here at this site. thank you all for being here today to commemorate 400 years of american history. for those of you from out of state, welcome to virginia. gov. northam: it's great to be here today with former governors, now senators mark warner and him gai and tim kaine. i also want to recognize lieutenant governor justin fairfax, our attorney general, congressman scott, congresswoman lauria, members of our legislative black caucus, and other elected officials. i want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this commemoration a reality. fort monroe authority director glenn oden, fort monroe authority board of trustees jim moran, members of the fort monroe authority board,
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fort monroe national monument superintendent terry brand. gov. northam: the national park service, kathy spangler, nancy rodriguez, and the team from american evolution. gov. northam: i'd also like to thank the hampton 2019 commemorative commission for all the hard work they have done around these events in their home cities. gov. northam: we are here today for a commemoration and a reckoning. today is a time to reckon with the fact that, 400 years ago, enslaved africans arrived for the first time on virginia shores. like you and me, they had lives and families, lives and families they would never see again.
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just up the river in jamestown a few weeks earlier, white landowning men had come together to establish a system of representative government, but that system did not represent all of the people who arrived here at old point comfort. people whose skin looks different than mine. that government did not represent them during 246 years of slavery. it did not represent them through nearly 100 years of reconstruction and jim crow terror and discrimination. and in many ways, it struggles to represent them today. gov. northam: that is the truth.
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that is what we must reckon with as we move forward. how do we tell the full and true story of the past 400 years? how do we do so with honor and dignity, for people whose honor and dignity was taken away from them? who should tell the story, and how do we learn from those lessons as we move forward? ida b wells wrote that, "the way to right wrongs is to turn the truth upon them." if we are going to begin to truly right the wrongs of our four centuries of hit sugary centuries of history, we have to start with ourselves. over the past several months, as i have met with people around the state and listened to their
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views on disparities and inequities that still exist today, i've had to confront some painful truths. among those truths was my own incomplete understanding regarding race and equity. i have learned a great deal from those discussions, and i have more to learn, but i've also learned that the more i know, the more i can do. gov. northam: you see, for too long the burden has been on individuals and communities of color to lead these discussions, but if more of us have these hard conversations and truly listen and learn from them, we'll be better able to shine that light of truth. gov. northam: because the eyes can see what the mind
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doesn't know. we can start those conversations at places like this, fort monroe, the ground where the first enslaved africans landed. this is also the same ground where the end of slavery began. it was here where enslaved people sought refuge and were granted it, a decision that eventually led to emancipation. general butler's contraband decision has been hailed by ed ayers, a nationally known historian of the american south and a member of the port monroe authority the fort monroe authority, as the greatest moment in african american history. gov. northam: virginia is the place where enslaved africans first landed, and where american
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representative democracy was born. virginia is the place where emancipation began in the confederate capital was located. virginia is the place where schools were closed under massive resistance rather than desegregate and allow black children to attend, and it is the state that elected the nation's first african-american governor. gov. northam: virginia is a place of contradictions and complexity. we take a step forward, and often a step backward, and we have to acknowledge that. we have to teach that our complexity we have to teach that complicity to our children and often our adults. for too often, we have told a false story of ourselves. the story is inefficient and inadequate, especially when it comes to
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black and inadequate, especially when it comes to black history. we must remember that black history gov. northam: we must remove or that black history is american history. gov. northam: that's why my earlier today, i signed an executive directive to establish a commission on african-american history education in our commonwealth. gov. northam: you all needed to stretch your legs a little bit, didn't you? gov. northam: yes. but this commission will review our educational standards, instructional practices, content and resources currently
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used to teach african-american history and our commonwealth history in our commonwealth. we want to make sure our students develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the african-american voices that contribute to our story. but that is not the only thing that we can do. when we look back at events of 1619 or 1861 or 19 64, when the civil rights act was signed, we often look at them as history, frozen in time or locked in a book, relics of the past. we memorize dates, but not connections. we don't teach the themes that appear in our history over and over again. gov. northam: we often fail to draw the connecting lines from those
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past events to our present day, but to move forward, that is what we must do. we know that racism and discrimination aren't locked in the past. they weren't solved with the civil rights act. they didn't disappear. they merely evolved. they are still with us in the disparities we see in education attainment and school suspension rate, in maternal and neonatal modality for black and white mothers, in our courts and prisons, and in our business practices. through 400 years of american history, starting with the enslavement of africans through jim crow, massive resistance and now mass incarceration, black oppression has always existed in this
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country, just in different forms. gov. northam: the legacy of racism continues not just in isolated incidents, but as part of a system that touches every person and every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not. and if we are serious about writing the wrong that began here about righting the wrong that began here at this place, we need to do more than talk. we need to take action. gov. northam: the commission i mentioned earlier is just one action. my administration is taking bold steps to right historical inequities in education, our health system, and access to business opportunities. gov. northam: we established a commission to examine racial inequities in virginia law. we have set a goal to eliminate racial disparities in maternal and neonatal mortality by 2025. gov. northam: i signed an executive order to advance
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equity for women, minority, and veteran owned businesses, and we are working to reduce either actions to reduce evictions. a few years ago, i was here at fort monroe to announce the removal of letters from the arch that one celebrated that once celebrated the president of the confederacy. jefferson davis was charged with treason and imprisoned here at fort monroe, a traitor to his country, and i believe it is no coincidence that in the same year that virginia and acted massive resistance virginia enacted massive resistance as official state policy, that arch went up in his honor. to have a monument glorifying a person who worked to maintain slavery, on the same site at which enslaved africans first arrived here and were later
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freed, is not just inappropriate. it is an offense it is offensive, and it is wrong. gov. northam: removing that monument is one way we can act to better tell the true story here in virginia, and i am pleased and proud to announce today another important step in how we represent the full and true story of our commonwealth. last year, i requested in the general assembly agreed to allocate $500,000 toward the first african landing memorial art project here at fort monroe. gov. northam: since that time, the fort monroe authority and the virginia commission for the arts, in partnership with the national park service, the fort monroe foundation, and project 1619,
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led a national search for an artist who could create this memorial art project at old point comfort. that art project will be dedicated to the first landing of african people here on these shores. importantly, the artist will engage with the public to ensure that the community has the chance to express their opinion on what this memorial project means to them and what experiences should be included in the design. i am delighted that the artist for the fort monroe african-american landing project is here with us today. please welcome mr. brian owens. would you please stand, sir? gov. northam: i look forward to seeing mr. owens'project and how it will contribute to this site and the telling of this
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important american story. on this very day last year, i was at the tucker family cemetery, a cemetery named after the first documented child of african dissent born in english-speaking child of african descent born in english-speaking north america. here in 1619. like too many african-american cemeteries, the tucker family secretary had fallen victim to neglect. it is also a testament to revival and restoration. family members and interested groups are working to restore the cemetery and i want to recognize and thank the delicate delegate for work on
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this issue. gov. northam: in that restoration work and in the events here this weekend, i see steps forward. i see is working to a knowledge the wrongs and the evils done in the past. and in the present. because while we cannot change the past, we can't use it and learn from it. can use it and learn from it. as your governor, i will do more. gov. northam: as we reckon with the painful legacy of virginia's racist past and acknowledge that it continues to shape our present, we can and must continue to act to improve the future. we must all work to tell our full and true story. it is our job, all of us, that make up this diverse society. to ensure that
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when the next generation looks back, a generation that is hopefully more inclusive than we have been, they see a more accurate narrative, one of the tells the truth and includes everyone. may god bless fort monroe, may god bless our commonwealth of virginia, may god bless the united states of america and may god bless all of you. thank you very much. >> >> due to a family illness, nikki giovanni is unable to be with us today. it to read her original helen for this occasion, please welcome jacqueline stone cochair of the american revolution first africans to english north america committee. >> >> a problem by nikki
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giovanni. 1619 jamestown but not only. an answer to the new york times. there may be a time limit but there is no time limit to change. that is not will not cannot change. no matter what the color the people or the language they speak, no matter which god is served, no matter which food is eaten or forbidden, which clothes are worn or not, no matter the hair covered or shaved, no matter how we look at it, there have been slaves. every civilization or rather most reach a point where slavery is recognized as wrong or in some cases a bad idea. or perhaps more accurately those who used to sell slaves now no longer have the currency or the
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strength to control the lives of human beings so they create a lie for the same purpose. i often wondered when i think of the murder of jesus what he and simon talked about as simon gave jesus some relief with getting the cross to calvary. we have a bit of an idea to what socrates was thinking as he drank hemlock. in our time, we know martin luther king wanted to hear music at dinner, played beautifully for me before the shots took his life. there would be many others who were hanged, beaten to death, fought in wars for the right or wrong side. i have wondered as a person living in virginia how the peanuts got here. we know europeans didn't go into communities to find west
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africans. africans did. we know when communities recognize defeat, they were lined up and brought to shore to be sold. we also see a grandmother trying to defend her grandson and failing, reaching to put in his hand a peanut. don't forget me she says. he hold tightly to what will be called america where he sold. he plants that charge for a promise to keep. he stays to watch it grow. others would escape and thank him cowardly but he had promises to keep. others did not understand the strength it takes to white slip from your hanging brother. to cradle your daughter after a rape. to lovingly put your wife into the ground. he had promises to keep. and he kept them. virginia is not the peanuts
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state. virginia is the state of promises. the only question is, will we keep them? >> >> sharing remarks from the national parks service, please welcome the deputy director. >> >> good morning. when you're the 11th speaker following these distinguished individuals, then a poor poet laureate than a young man who will steal all of our hearts it is a rough assignment but as the deputy director of the national park service, i take that
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responsibility but i will try to be brief area. welcome to all of you today who are distinguished guests. we are grateful for some money for helping to make for monroe one of the 419 national park units of the national park system. will recognize we recognize the important responsibility we have as stewards of fort monroe national monument and its role in so many facets of our history. since the creation of the national park service in 1916, 103 years ago tomorrow, our duty has been to care for america's extraordinary places and the stories they harbor. certainly, many of our parks are beautiful landscapes. they are also places where challenging events took place. national parks provide spaces for discussion, reflection, and
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our shared american narrative. as we are doing here at fort monroe today, tomorrow, and into the future. the 400th anniversary is a year-long commemoration and conservation conversation. to recognize the highlight of 400 years of african-american history and a competence. the work of the 400 years of the african-american history commission established by congress and signed into law by president trump last year is administered by the national park service. it will extend through july of 2020. civic, historical, educational, artistic, religious and other organizations are invited to coordinate and participate in activities designed to expand the collective understanding
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and appreciation of an african-american contribution to the american experience. tomorrow, national parks across the country will join with us here at for monroe as we ring bells to remember the africans who were brought here in bondage 400 years ago. the generations of african-americans who struggled, overcame, and continue to strive for civil and social justice today. just imagine tomorrow at the statue of liberty at independence hall at acadia national park in maine, the everglades in florida, denali in alaska, and the uss arizona in most memorial and hawaii. at martin luther king's national historic site in
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atlanta, at brown v. board of education, at tuskegee national historic site, at selma of birmingham, at harriet tubman and the underground railroad, all of us will be in spirit and in strength as we go sport forward. we're grateful to our many partners who have made this weekend possible. including the commonwealth of virginia, american revolution 2019, the city of hampton, the grassroots organization projects 1619 and hampton roads community. the fort monroe authority, and the united states armed forces who are supporting this event. i would like all representatives of the national park service who are here to please stand briefly. i
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would like the superintendent to remain standing. this is a hallmark day for the national park service. this is what our mission is about. you as the superintendent of the for monroe national monument have brought us to this day and i commend you for your efforts and leadership to bring us to where we are today. i salute
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you, superintendent. he represents the best of the national park service and governor, i would like to say that the national park service accepts your challenge to tell the stories as we move toward the 250th anniversary of our declaration in 2026 and we tell the stories as you say we need to with truth and the knowledge of our past. if you all very much. thank you all very much. >> >> please welcome the student of larkspur middle school in virginia beach. >> >> good morning everyone.
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today, i am honored and delighted to be a youthful voice to help celebrate this occasion. when the first africans landed here at fort monroe 400 years ago, they may not have known how their sacrifices and contributions would help shape our community and nation. as the years and generations past, there are
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also local african-americans who continue to give contributions to society. such as, catherine johnson, a resident of hampton. a mathematician who is known for calculating trajectories for many of nasa's crew missions. we should also recognize mary jackson who in 1958 became nasa's first black female engineer. and who was born and educated right here in hampton,
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virginia. i am sure the first africans will be proud of their compliments however, there is another way that we can all give back to our community. we can simply start with how we treat one another. are you kind to others daily? i'm not just talking about being kind to friends and family. how about being kind to people you barely know? or do not know at all. i
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want to share a personal story. earlier this year, my teacher was battling cancer so i wanted to do something to let her know she wasn't on this journey alone. with the help of others, i collected 551 cards to encourage her and brighten her most difficult days ahead. we can all find ways to show kindness to one another. for example, hold the door open for someone walking behind you. or, walk around with a smile on your face. your smile may brighten up someone else's day.
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be helpful to the elderly and disabled. pray for our country and others. during times of tragedy. create ways to volunteer and help others. why do all of this you may ask? in my 11 years of being on this earth i realize that my angelo's quote is true. she said people may not remember what you say or do but they never forget how you make them
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feel. imagine the problems that would be solved if all people were kind. it doesn't matter what your race or religion may be. we all deserve kindness. we all should show kindness. as we commemorate 400 years of the first africans landing here at fort monroe, let's make them proud. this is more than just a speech. i challenge you to let the day also be a celebration. of your commitment to become a
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more caring and kind individual to all. thank you, and god bless you all. please welcome
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the honorable four marks an introduction. remarks and introduction. >> >> so i get to follow him. good morning and welcome to the second senate district. education in the news media are to critically important institutions that have been involved in the freedom movement here in america. it is with great pride that i stand here today first, as an educator which was and is my role before i became a legislator. as a professor, i have long believed that
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knowledge is power. power can be productive but also destructive. when we educate ourselves with the truth and commit to living out their truth, we can change our communities for the better. as a student and product of the southern freedom movement, i know intimately that the truth shall indeed set us free. as a legislator, i believe that establishing laws that are rooted in truth is caret crucial to guaranteeing him and justice for all. the responsibility of the general assembly is to confront these principles during each session and the news media is equally responsible. the has often been a guiding light to helping the legislative ranch of government achieve this important goal. president thomas jefferson was correct to champion the role of the press as a pillar of democracy. as an
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african-american, the news media particularly the black press has been vital to educating and inspiring african-americans to persevere toward freedom. from its very beginning, the black press advocated passionately for freedom, education, and self empowerment. in 1827, freedom journal, america's first black newspaper, launched with these powerful words. we wish to plead our own cause. too long have others spoken for us. too long has the public and deceived by misrepresentation. in things which concern us dearly. these words define the desire and willingness of black people to fight for their freedom. to determine their own fate. regarding the importance of education, freedom journal looked toward future
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generations of african-americans. the editorial continued and i again quote. education being an option of the highest importance to the welfare of society, we shall endeavor to present just and adequate views of it. it is truly time that we should awake from this lethargy of years and make a concentrated effort for the education of our youth. deliberate miseducation was why the institution of slavery stood for so many generations. this wrong yet very real belief
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that black people were less than human prevailed among many well-educated white men and women. it was not only perpetuated in schools, but through writing and images published in the white press. the black press from freedom's journal on through other black publications such as lawford's guide and journal air locally presented the america that was being deliberately omitted. real facts told by black journalists pushed all media to be more balanced, more accurate, to become better at telling the truth. now in 2019, as news is consumed in new ways, we face the challenge of inaccurate information spread across the internet and the airways. lies have threatened our knowledge of each other as americans. we are more educated, yet we seem to have less understanding of the truth. today more than ever, we need a voices of truth in the media such as our speaker
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today. media personalities who are dedicated to advocacy that educate and move americans to positive action. it is my honor to introduce a graduate of the university of tennessee and in a law school, he has worked for economic justice both as a civil rights attorney and environmental activist and is known for his best-selling book the green collar economy. he served as special advisor for green jobs for president obama and is now the host and commentator of cnn. please welcome me in joining van jones. >> >> i am relieved because nobody is good to remember anything that happened except for ricin bryson. give that man
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a hand. everyone was wiping away tears listening to the young man. i will save time by echoing and saying amen to all of the great words of appreciation and honors to the people who are here and just say a few words. i am a night generation american. i am a net generation american. i am the first person in my family who was born with all of my rights recognized by this government. i am a night generation american and i am the first person in my family. so when people say why do you keep talking about these issues? i am not talking about my great great great great grandparents though i could and should. my mother and my father were born under segregation. my father was born in poverty and
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segregation in memphis, tennessee. he joined the military when everyone was running out, my father ran in so he could put himself through college. he went to a little black college in jackson, tennessee and he married the college presidents water because my father had it like that. he knew what he was doing. after he got out, he and my mother put my uncle through college, his little brother. and his cousins through college. and my entire family got through poverty through this bridge called my father's back. when my father died, the picture that of my father on the funeral program was my father standing in front of year law school the day i graduated with hands in the air saying we did it. we showed them. in one generation we
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showed them. take the foot off our neck a little bit we can go anywhere and compete with anybody. my one great pain is that my father lost his battle with cancer before being able to see barack obama in the white house. yet in some ways, maybe it's good. because my father was not the kind of man who would have taken it easy on me or easy on us as we look to the future, my father would have asked me, how can you be happy to have one black man in the white house and almost a million of black men in the jailhouse and not doing enough about it? it would not be easy on me. he would not be easy on us. have can you be happy to celebrate if you block of billionaires when the average wealth of the black family is going down and down to almost
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zero? he would be tough on us. he would not accept the answered that there are racists in the country. that there are opponents in the country. when i would come home from school and talk about racism at yale, my father would say to that any dogs on you? yes he would say we have to deal with those issues but my father would also say something which i want to share with you. that when you have the right strategy, it is hard to hurt you. when you have the wrong strategy it is hard to help you. when your enemy downgrades, you have to upgrade your approach. as we now look to the next 400 years, we often
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have black history month. i love black history month. we need more black history it should just be a month. i should sometimes feel tempted to trade at least one black history month for a black future weekend. can we talk about the black future? can we talk about where we are going? coming talk about what is necessary to get there as we look at the next 400 years? we learned a tough lesson. in the obama white house. we believed that we had gotten to the mountaintop that dr. king talked about. when i got to that mountaintop, we realized that our sisters and brothers in haiti who had been dropped off of other boats were correct when they say behind the mountain is another mountain. that achievement in 2008 was not at the end, it was the beginning of a new journey.
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behind the mountain of washington, d.c. there are other mountains of power. there are four centers of power in our country. we did not know that until we got to washington, d.c. we spent most of the last century trying to get to washington, d.c. frederick douglass went to washington. dr. king marched on washington hoping a president would do better. barack and michelle went to the white house. when we got to that corner of power it turned out there were three others. that we didn't know anything about. if we're going to be honest, there is work left to be done in washington, d.c. i am proud to be under the leadership and tutelage of bobby scott doing that work to deal with mass incarceration, to deal with the prison industrial complex. i am proud that bobby scott is bringing
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conservatives and liberals together to do something about incarceration. conservatives believe in liberty and liberals believe in justice and our incarceration industry denies liberty and justice to many people and that is why bobby scott is such a champion for liberty and justice for all. i love this brother and he is my leader. washington, d.c. is only one corner. of a four corner power system. you leave washington, d.c. and get on a train and go north you are in new york city. wall street. finance. big capital. very few african-americans there. i want to make sure that the next generation sitting in our classrooms will study robert smith, the african-american who is beginning to dominate wall
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street as much as we study anyone else. big-money, big power, wall street. if you leave wall street, take a taxi and go to the airport, jfk, you can fly across the country and within five hours you are in the bay area of northern california. silicon valley. you have google, apple, facebook, amazon, the people who are building the future. we used to write the future in-laws and washington, d.c.. now the future is being written in computer code in silicon valley. they are changing your phone right now. the power to write and dictate the future is in silicon valley. very few
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african-americans in silicon valley. our children are happy to be given the opportunity to download apps not taught how to write their own and upload apps. we need a generation of upload is not just downloaders. lastly, take a leisurely drive from northern california to southern california. you will very quickly be in a place called hollywood. you can see stars not just in the sky but on the sidewalks. another place of power where too often, we are the stars but we do not own the studios. media ownerships in an information age, another mountain to climb. i say this to you because the way we got
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here was because african-american allies were willing to look clearly and honestly at the challenges that they faced and with less than we have, with less technology, with less money, with less support, with less understanding, they met every single challenge up to this day. they understood that sometimes you have to have an evolution in the revolution. sometimes you have to have an evolution in the revolution. when you're in many downgrades, sometimes you have to upgrade and we are at that moment. i am confident that we can meet this moment and meet this challenge and climb the mountain of
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policy in washington, finance and wall street, technology in silicon valley, media ownership in hollywood, and anything else revealed to us because african-americans and our allies have been the driving force. we are told in 1770 we were sold in 1776 when they said and even believed that we had created we had founded a democratic republic on these shores on one day in 1776. fake news. we had not yet founded a democratic republic. we begun to process. frederick douglas and harriet tubman standing up
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to and slavery were founders also of a democratic republic. the people who set up at stonewall and said stop mistreating us because of who we love, they were founders to the process of founding a truly multiracial multiclass democratic republic. the toughest job taken on by any people in the world to have one country with every kind of human being ever born living
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within it. one country with every race, every faith, every gender presentation, every sexuality, every kind of human being ever born in one place living as a democracy as a democratic republic. a toughest challenge taken on by any people on earth. that challenge is a challenge that was taken on centuries ago and we will be working to develop it centuries from now. what that challenge means for us today is that you are a founder. you are a founder. the people on this stage are founding the republic that the bryson's of the world
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will live in and we have to take our charge in our time as seriously as the people before us did so that someday when we put our hands on our hearts, we will have a democratic republic with liberty and justice for all. thank you very much. >> >> please welcome the honorable justin fairfax, lieutenant governor of virginia. >> >> good morning, everyone. i am deeply honored to be here with you all today with this distinguished array of public
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servants. i thank you all for your leadership, your inspiration, all you do on behalf of the commonwealth of virginia and on behalf of this nation. i recognize all of those who previously have been recognized here in the audience. thank you all for your service. i also wanted to the specially recognized a couple of dear friends who have been instrumental in his commemoration weekend and have given their heart and soul to making this so successful. to the cochairman of the hampton commemoration commission. i want to recognize them if they would stand and please take a bow. thank you for your tremendous leadership for all that you have done. i am also very grateful for being joined here by my wonderful family. my brilliant wife, our two young children, my mother-in-law, thank you all. we are grateful that you made the trip to be
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with us here. there is also a group here at fort monroe that i wanted to recognize who has not yet been properly recognized area if you anywhere on this fort are the descendent of anyone who has been enslaved whether you know their name or not, i would be honored if you are able to please stand and be recognized by all of us. we are grateful you are the legacy that we are here to commemorate and celebrate. let us recognize all of those who represent the best of who we are in virginia and in this nation, the foundational part of why we are here today. we have heard a lot this morning rightfully so about truth. there is power in the truth. there is power in knowing our history. there is power in knowing whence we
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came. during the week of our inauguration in january, 2018, i learned how my family have been last name or fax areas it was discovered in the old fairfax county courthouse. the name thomas fairfax who was the night lord fairfax. my father got a copy of that document two days before our inauguration. he gave a copy of it to me. i saw it for the very first time in my life area and 20 minutes before i walked up the steps of the capitol on inauguration day to take the oath of office of lieutenant governor. i have that in my breast pocket. 220 years later, simon fairfax is
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great great great grandson was being sworn in as the number two leader of the state of virginia. today, we mark this commemoration to ensure that the world will always remember how the united states of america got its start. the enslaved africans whose labor and lives are foundational to the beginning and the success of our nation. we stand today on sacred and hallowed ground from which framed the foundation of america. we also
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stand at the awe-inspiring intersection of or hundred years of a very complex history. a history filled with the dual strands of darkness and light. that have run through the veins of the commonwealth of virginia and through our nation for centuries. a history of tragedy and triumph. of pain and promise. slavery and salvation, of opposition and opportunity. a history of heart break and hope. at this intersection, we must decide what the next 400 years will look like in this land that we love. we must decide whether we finally abandon the racism, sexism, dehumanization, unequal treatment under the law and racial and economic subjugation that met the 20 some odd africans as they were forced to land on this very spot 400 years ago. we must decide whether in the next 400 years
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we will rise to the better angels of our nature. there is power in the truth. for generations, americans have been taught that the first enslaved africans arrived in jamestown in 1619. today however, we raise up the truth that they in fact were forced to land right here 40 miles southeast in point comfort modern-day hampton virginia. the truth is that among that small band of rave surviving souls were anthony and isabella. who would later find love even in the midst of enslavement to produce william tucker, the first named african child born in english north
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america. yesterday, eight miles up the road, we commemorated the 400 year milestone of the tucker family cemetery with the beautiful descendents of the great legacy. as i stood there on those hallowed grounds in a cemetery that represented life more than death, i thought about the famous quote they tried to bury us but they did not know we were seeds. the tucker family story is the african-american story. it is also the american story. we as a people have triumphed over obstacles no others have. we will do it again and again. we built this country. do not tell us to go back where we came from. we have found victory over systematic subjugation and
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the scene our way through. we have prevailed over lives and succeeded against all odds. no one can stop us. we have made a way out of no way. we should be proud of it all. we stand on the shoulders of the strongest ancestors in world history. ancestors whose faith, resilience, perseverance, and love have allowed us to rise in spite of all the many obstacles created to stop our progress. in the famous and immortal words of maya angelou, out of the huts of history i rise. up from a past that is rooted in pain, i rise. i am a black ocean leaping and wide welling and swelling i bear in the tide leaving behind nights of terror
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and fear i rise into a daybreak that is wondrously clear. i rise. bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, i am the dream and the hope of the slave. i rise i rise i rise. it is said that anthony, isabella, and the 20 some odd africans came here with nothing. that is not quite true either. having nothing would not have allowed them to survive the brutal month-long journey of angola to where we stand today in the bowels of wooden ships. having nothing would not have permitted their spirits to believe in the capacity of love even as hate and degradation
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was their daily reality. having nothing would not have allowed them to continue to burn the flame of hope in the seemingly unending midnight of slavery. what they had was spiritual wealth. the faith, the values, compassion, love of others and the belief that tomorrow could be brighter than today. the truth is, for centuries, we have sailed masterfully in rough seas. over alternating waves of progress and high tides of adversity, powered by the unflagging wins of faith and hope and ever steered in the direction of liberation and uplift. we have carried each successive generation to lands of opportunity hoped and prayed for by prior ones. the pace of our progress is sometimes painfully slow and at other times breathtakingly rapid. the broad sweep of our collective journey, because our moral compass remains true, we always make progress. we always rise
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together. that is the nature of our story in america. it is the hallmark of who we are. now, it is our time to write another chapter in the great story of america. i believe it will be a chapter where we continue to see the best of who we are because i have an unwavering belief in the fundamental decency, goodwill, and humanity of the people of virginia and america. comforted by the god of our weary years and the god of our silent tears and with our eyes focused firmly on the promise land, we will rise to the call of history and to the better angels of our nature together. god bless you all, god bless anthony, isabella, the 20 all enslaved africans, william tucker, the commonwealth of virginia, we
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will all rise together. god bless you all. >> >> to deliver today's benediction, please welcome reverend monsignor walter barrett junior. god of our silent tears that has brought us thus far on the way. that
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who has by thy might lead us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray. as our feet stray from the places our god where we met the, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget the. shadowed beneath thy hand, maybe forever stand true to our god. true to our native land. may god protect us and bless us and keep us all from evil. amen. amen. amen. >> >> please join me in thanking all of our presenters today as we welcome back to the stage the high school choir for
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our final performance lift every voice and sing. >>
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♪ ♪ ♪ >> lift every voice and sing till earth and heaven ring ring with the harmonies of liberty; let our rejoicing rise, high as the list'ning skies, let it resound loud as the rolling sea sing a song full of faith that the dark past has tought us, (music) sing a song full of the
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hope that the present has brought us; facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won. (music) stony the road we trod, bitter the chast'ning rod, felt in the day that hope unborn had died; yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, come to the place on witch our fathers sighed? (music) we have come over a way that with tears has been
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watered, we have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last where the white gleam of our star is cast. god of our weary years, god of our silent tears, thou who has brought us thus far on the way; thou who has by thy might, led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray lest our feet stray frm the places, our god,
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where we met thee, least our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee, shadowed beneath the hand, may we forever stand, tru to our god, tru to our native land. >> in commemoration, the
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association for the study of african life posed a discussion on the theme, 400 years of perseverance, a group of scholars talk about the importance of slight site preservation, collide theory, civil rights and the criminal justice system. from earlier this year this is about two hours.


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