National Park Service commemorates 400th anniversary of American slavery

National Park Service commemorates 400th anniversary of American slavery

HAMPTON, Va. (WWBT) - The national park service commemorated 400 years of African-American history on Sunday with a moment of silence following the ringing of bells.

Ceremonies took place at parks across the country, including Fort Monroe in Hampton, the site of the first African Americans who entered English-occupied soil in 1619.

Ajena Rogers, with the Richmond National Battlefield Park and Maggie Walker Historical Site, drove from Richmond to Fort Monroe to celebrate along with hundreds of people.

“The landing happened right around the 20th of August, and so the communities have been coming together to do this commemoration today as a culmination of that event happening," said Rogers.

“So many things happened in the Virginia colony, and one of those significant events was the landing of enslaved Africans,” Rogers said.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, national parks across the country rang bells simultaneously for 4 minutes. Each minute represented the four centuries since the start of slavery.

“The bells are there to help us to take time to reflect and remember a time to be silent and listen and then start listening to each other,” said Rogers.

Rogers hopes that with this event people all over America will continue to recognize the sacrifices African Americans made throughout history since the start of slavery and begin a period of healing for the nation.

“The people who were here made a choice to purchase those Africans from that ship and it was the beginning of the period where slavery was a crucial part of how this country was developing," said Rogers. “It stands as a beginning for us to come together and heal.”

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