In August of 1619, a journal entry recorded that “20 and odd” Angolans, kidnapped by the Portuguese, arrived in the British colony of Virginia and were then bought by English colonists.
The date and the story of the enslaved Africans have become symbolic of slavery’s roots, despite captive and free blacks likely being present in the Americas in the 1400s and as early as 1526 in the region that would become the United States.
The fate of enslaved people in the United States would divide the nation during the Civil War. And after the war, the racist legacy of slavery would persist, spurring movements of resistance, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Black Lives Matter movement, among others.
Through it all, Black leaders, artists and writers have emerged to shape the character and identity of a nation.