© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

400 Years Later, Campaign Looks to Share Virginia History

Mallory Noe-Payne



Virginia officials are rolling out a year-long campaign to honor the state’s history. It’s called American Evolution, and is pegged to the 400th anniversary of several big firsts for North America.

It was the summer of 1619 and 22 men met in Jamestown for the first representative legislative assembly in the New World. But it wouldn’t be the only first that year. 1619 was when Africans were first brought to America, and the first time a large group of English women arrived.

Now, four centuries later, Virginia is planning a years’ worth of commemorative events meant to tell the stories we know, and the ones we don’t.

“Stories of courageous women, African Americans, and Virginia Indians we likely didn’t learn about in our history books that forever altered the course of history and continue to influence us today,” said Governor Ralph Northam during a kick-off event Wednesday.

Speaker of the House Kirk Cox says the campaign is intentionally called the 2019 commemoration, not celebration.

“We recognize that celebration sets the wrong tone as we want to build a dialogue and host events that investigate our shared stories of past challenges, yes inequities, and incredible successes,” said Cox.  

Events will include a Native American film festival, an exhibit on women at Jamestown, and even a specially commissioned ballet.

The General Assembly has set aside $24 million for the effort, and is hoping to get a return on that investment in increased tourism.

Events begin next month. You can learn more by going to americanevolution2019.com

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.