Captured during warfare in the Angolan kingdom of Ndongo, Angelo (also referred to as “Angela”) arrived in 1619, just days after the arrival of Virginia’s first documented Africans, described as numbering “20. and odd.” Not much is known about her life in the colony, but her name is recorded in the 1625 “Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia,” (illustrated above) on loan from The National Archives for the first time in 400 years (so we'll both be crossing the Atlantic!).
Angelo's story is also being told as part of Jamestown Settlement’s special exhibition “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” – a legacy project of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution.
The full schedule for the day is listed below.
In my talk, Before Virginia: Free Africans in Tudor and Stuart England, I'll be explaining that when the first Africans arrived in Virginia in August 1619, there had already been Africans living freely in England for over one hundred years. Just five months previously, a free African sailor, John Anthony of Dover, had set out for Virginia aboard the Silver Falcon. The ship only made it as far as Bermuda, but a few months later, John Anthony successfully petitioned for his wages, and was paid with interest to compensate for the delay.
I''l be showing how his experience, and those of over 300 Africans I've identified living in England between 1500 and 1640, provides a fascinating contrast to the well- established (and yet still contested) narrative of the African experience in Colonial Virginia. I'll be exploring the lives of these Black Tudors and Stuarts; how they came to England, what occupations and relationships they found there and how they were treated by its church, its law courts and its people.
So, if you happen to be in the area that weekend, or know anyone who will be, do come along/spread the word!
You can read more about the event and buy tickets via the Jamestown Settlement website.
I'm also very excited to visit Historic Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg while I'm there. I'll try to find time to blog again when I get home and tell you all about it...
Finding Angelo: Honoring the First African Women in Virginia
Saturday August 10, 2019 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
9:30 a.m. ○ Check-In/Coffee at the Group Arrivals Atrium, follow the signs at front of museum.
• ROBINS FOUNDATION THEATER •
10 a.m. ○ “Before Virginia: Free Africans in Tudor and Stuart England” morning lecture by Dr. Miranda Kaufmann, senior research fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Dr. Kaufmann is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Black Tudors: The Untold Story, which was shortlisted for both the Wolfson History Prize and the Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding in 2018.
11:10 a.m. ○ “Fugitives Politics, Gender and the World of Seventeenth-Century Angola” lecture by Dr. Jessica Krug, assistant professor of history at George Washington University. A historian of Black politics, imagination, gender and cultural practices, with a particular interest in West Central Africa and maroon societies and Black transnational cultural studies, Dr. Krug is the author of Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom, which is currently a finalist for the Harriet Tubman Book Prize.
12:10 p.m. ○ Lunch on your own or with pre-ordered box lunch.
1:15 p.m. ○ “What’s in a Name” afternoon presentation by Katherine Egner Gruber, special exhibition curator at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. One of the brains behind Jamestown Settlement’s “TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia” special exhibition, Gruber introduces the historical documents that bear Angelo’s name and explores what they tell us about her world.
1:30 p.m. ○ “Between Two Shores: The Heart of Angela” living-history performance by Valarie Gray Holmes, whose research informs a moving portrayal of “Angela” and her world.
2 p.m. ○ “American Heartbreak: American Memory and Racial Amnesia” presentation by Mark Summers, public historian for Preservation Virginia. Summers situates the commemoration of Jamestown within the civil rights struggle to acknowledge black history, revealing why “Angela’s” story is only now emerging, 400 years after she arrived at Jamestown.
3 p.m. ○ Break and opportunity to view “TENACITY” special exhibition.
3:45 p.m. ○ Panel discussion with the day’s presenters, moderated by Barbara Hamm Lee, executive producer and host of WHRV-FM’s Another View. Book signings by Dr. Miranda Kaufmann, author of Black Tudors, and Dr. Jessica Krug, author of Fugitive Modernities, will follow the panel discussion, with both books available for purchase.
Throughout the Day ○ Interpretive portrait of Angelo created ‘real-time’ by artist Austin Miles, in view of attendees and informed by ongoing presentations. A graduate of VCUarts who was first introduced to murals in 2017 while collaborating on Richmond’s first mural created by and specifically for black girls, Austin’s work embodies her own stories and aims to contribute to the conversation surrounding black female experiences.