Remember the 400 | St. Louis Public Radio

Remember the 400

Members of the national organization Remember the 400 gather around the historical marker in Hampton, Virginia, that recognizes the location where the first 20 or so Africans were brought on slave ships.
Naomi Blair

After visiting Point Comfort — present-day Hampton, Virginia — a few weeks ago, Anthony Ross, director of the St. Louis chapter of Remember the 400, said he wants the group to bring more black history to the region. 

The group traveled for 20 hours by bus to Hampton in late August to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in America in 1619.

According to researchers, In August 1619, about 350 Africans were torn from their families and homes in Angola and forced on a Portuguese slave ship. While chained aboard the ship, which was headed to Vera Cruz, Mexico, a group of Dutch pirates captured t
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

During Anthony Ross’ formative years, his family moved around St. Louis and St. Louis County several times. The one constant in his life was education. His mother encouraged him to do well in school, relying on public schools to teach him about African American history. 

Ross said that didn’t happen. His extensive knowledge about St. Louis’ black history and his African ancestors grew out of his own curiosity and his passion for black history. 

A slave ship at the Alexandria, Virginia, waterfront. From a broadside published by the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1836, 200 years after the first slaves arrived in Virginia.
Wikimedia Commons

In August 1619, 20 Africans were chained and unwillingly brought from West Africa to Point Comfort, Virginia, and sold into slavery. Historians point to this date as the beginning of slavery in America.

In 2018, President Donald Trump signed the 400 years of African-American History Commission Act into law. The bill allows for the commission to plan and support organizations with nationwide commemorative activities that acknowledge slavery. 

The national youth-led organization Remember the 400 is an awareness campaign that also honors the first Virginia slaves and their descendants. For the past two years, the St. Louis chapter has connected with the region through community events, black history webinars and informational sessions.