American Evolution

Commemorating the 400th anniversary of defining America in Virginia.

The First Thanksgiving

Photo courtesy of Berkeley Plantation

Many key events transpired in Virginia in 1619 that have helped shape America as it is today. American Evolution is celebrating this 400 year anniversary with lectures, exhibitions, film festivals, commemorations, and other special events throughout 2019. Here, we provide a list of select happenings. AmericanEvolution2019.com

The Great Charter and the General Assembly

Runs through Dec. 31, Virginia State Capitol Visitor Center

This exhibit at the Capitol highlights the origins of the Virginia General Assembly and details the Great Charter of 1618 that allowed for its formation.

National Park Service Year-Long Series

Through Dec. 31, Fort Monroe

The National Park Service is hosting a series of events, concerts, tours, and workshops related to the First Africans and the area’s African-American history.

1919 and Its Legacies: Race, Nation and Conflict

March 1-2, University of Richmond

This two-day symposium is about the long-term impact of racial injustice in Virginia takes a look at where we were 100 years ago. A look at “a critical moment in the history of racial violence, radicalism, state suppression, and nationhood.”

Contracting Futures: Four Hundred Years of Black

March 15-16, William and Mary School of Education, Williamsburg

The 400th anniversary of the first Africans is explored in this two-day symposium sponsored by the Lemon Project.

Faith Journeys in the Black Experience, 1619-2019

March 19-21, Virginia Union University, Richmond

The Virginia Council of Churches and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University host this three-day conference that examines the religious context of the year 1619.

Hampton Heritage Day

April 20, Carousel Park, Hampton

A free festival that celebrates the Native American, European, and African cultures that have shaped Hampton’s history.

American Adventure

Runs through April 28, Virginia Living Museum, Newport News

An interactive game in which visitors become colonists and, with an abacus and some knowledge, try to survive the New World.

Historic Jamestown: Democracy and Diversity

Opens April 15, Historic Jamestown

New exhibitions and public programs on Jamestown Island, including a replica of the church where democracy began, and “Fort to Port,” which traces the fort’s evolution.

Native American Lecture Series and Symposium

April 18-19, Hampton History Museum

This two-day symposium explores the history and legacy of Native American people in Hampton Roads and Virginia.

Dance Theatre of Harlem World Premiere

May 3-5, Chrysler Hall, Norfolk

The world premiere of a ballet about the arrival of the first Africans and the influx of women into Virginia, with music by Jessie Montgomery and choreography by Claudia Schreiber.

Additional dates: May 28-31, John F. Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.; Sept. 14, Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg.

Escape To Freedom

May 4, Continental Park, Fort Monroe

All about the “Contraband Decision” of 1861, where escaped slaves would no longer be returned by the Union Army to their Southern owners. Presented by the Contraband Historical Society.

Standing on the Shore

May 4, Fort Monroe Theater

This musical about the first Africans’ arrival at Point Comfort incorporates original songs, drama, poetry, and dance and is produced by Goode Dance Academy of Newport News.

Global Pathfinder Summit

May 20-24, Charlottesville

The young participants of this five-day summit will reflect on the challenges of leadership, civic engagement, and governance.

Christianity and the African Influence, 1619-2019

June 4, Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton

This panel discussion coincides with the Hampton University Ministers Conference, and will include respected theologians and biblical scholars discussing the impact of Christianity and Africa in the Black community.

International Day of Remembrance

June 8, Buckroe Beach & Park, Hampton

Presented by The Sankofa Projects and the Hampton History Museum, this annual remembrance pays tribute to the millions of African men, women and children who perished during the Middle Passage of the Transatlantic Enslavement Trade.

Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South

June 8-Nov. 17, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond

This specially-curated exhibition showcases exemplary African American art, including paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings and quilts from the VMFA’s permanent collection.

Generation Z and 1619

July 16, Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton

This roundtable discussion will feature members of the Generation Z or the Post-Millennial Generation, who will offer thoughts and insights about 1619 and how America’s history influences their view of contemporary society.

Virginia’s Original People in the Colony Symposium

Aug. 20, Thomas Nelson Community College, Hampton

Scholars and experts discuss the history, culture and perspectives of the making of America and the impact of Colony expansion on Native American customs and traditions.

“Voices from the Garden” Women’s Monument Dedication Event

Oct. 14, Virginia State Capitol

The dedication of a new monument dedicated to women—230 historic Virginians and 12 hall-of-famers—on State Capitol grounds. This is the first statehouse monument of its kind in the nation.


For more events, and to learn more about the 400th anniversary, pick up a copy of our April 2019 issue. 

June 11, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
July 9, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum
August 13, 2022

Star Gazing and Laser Nights

Virginia Living Museum