Poet, politicians to mark first enslaved Africans' arrival

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Poet, politicians to mark first enslaved Africans' arrival
Terry E. Brown, Superintendent of the Fort Monroe National Monument poses next to a historical marker that signifies the spot of the first landing of Africans in America 400 years ago at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam and poet Nikki Giovanni will help observe the arrival of enslaved Africans to what is now Virginia.

They’ll speak Saturday at the 2019 African Landing Commemorative Ceremony in Hampton. It’s being held on Chesapeake Bay, where ships traded men and women from what’s now Angola for supplies from English colonists.

The landing in August 1619 is considered a pivotal moment that presaged a system of race-based slavery.

Giovanni will read an original poem. Other speakers include Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott.

Saturday’s event is one of several commemorating the arrival. A family that traces its roots to the Africans gathered at a cemetery Friday. A bell will ring at the landing spot during Sunday’s “Healing Day.”