This one-of-a-kind sculpture will commemorate a singular moment that reverberates through the fabric of more than 400 years of American history—the landing of the first Africans to the Virginia Colony in English North America in August, 1619, here at Point Comfort. Collectively, this memorial and interpretive and education programs will provide an opportunity for national and international audiences to openly discuss together our past to foster a new understanding of our nation’s beginning.
Significance of the Monument
First African Arrival
In 1619, the ship carrying the first enslaved Africans in the New World reached the shores of North America at Point Comfort, now Fort Monroe. Far from their home in Angola, these farmers, blacksmiths, herders andartisans survived capture and displacement and helped a fledgling nation survive.
The Contraband Decision
During the Civil War, Fort Monroe became known as “Freedom’s Fortress” based on the Contraband Decision of 1861 when three fugitive slaves sought refuge at the fort. Just two years later, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation guaranteeing freedom for all persons held as slaves.
The Black Cultural Tour
Follow the historical connection between African Americans and Fort Monroe by taking the Black Cultural Tour. From Engineer Wharf, marking the first landing of Africans at Old Point Comfort, to the “Contraband Hospital” site where, in 1863, Harriet Tubman served as a nurse and cook, you can take an enjoyable and informative eight-stop walking or driving tour.