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  Grant Funds Programs Around
  1619 Arrival of Africans in the New World

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies at NSU a $69,000 grant, which will fund two years of programming for the 1619 conference series. The first conference will take place on Sept. 26 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center and September 27 at the NSU Student Center. The series focuses on the arrival of Africans at Old Point Comfort (Fort Monroe). Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, professor of history and director of the Center, is serving as the principal investigator.

“We have created a consortium of faculty from several universities and organizations to support this initiative,” said Dr. Newby-Alexander. The consortium includes Old Dominion University, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Wesleyan College, Hampton University, the Nottoway Indians of Virginia, Project 1619, Contraband Society, Hampton History Museum, Hampton Visitors Bureau and the Legacy of Weyanoke.

Last year, “1619: The Making of America” began exploring the question of when we became Americans. The year 1619 is considered a pivotal one in the history of America because of the first documented arrival of Africans in colonial America, the founding of the first limited representative body, later called the House of Burgess, and the establishment of an economy based on tobacco. In addition, the following year, white women began arriving as groups in the colony, a signal that the British planned to stay.

The Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies, named in honor of the Virginian who became the first president of Liberia, has a mission to research, publish and disseminate works on the history, culture and contributions of African people across the globe and their impact on America and Virginia.

Complementing its focus on the importance of 1619, the Roberts Center has spent the past 3 years engaged in developing a prototype gaming program on the Underground Railroad and public programs that inform the public about the Underground Railroad in Hampton Roads.

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