400 Years In 2019


Africans arrived on American shores as captured immigrants in 1619. The immigrants’ children were enslaved. African Americans, Blacks, have been enslaved and/or oppressed in America for 400 years.


How do we celebrate? Do we celebrate? How do we reflect on 400 years? Do we hold special summits, special meetings? Do we go to church? Do we party? Do we make t-shirts? Do we march?

What do we do to recognize 400 years in America? Do we have a coat or mattress sale? Do we remember? Do we try to forget the slavery horrors, the terror and the brutality? Do we have special television shows? Do we cry? Do we preach and do we pray?

Do we remember slavery and the injustices done to so many? Do we trace our roots? Do we hold special classes in schools? Do we host forums? Do we have historians lecture on our history? Do we have a national party? Do we chronicle the journey in special editions?

Do we hold a press conference? Do we have a special calendar? Do we have midnight mass? Do we recognize the benchmarks of “firsts”? Do we examine Black leadership? Do we measure Black progress from ground zero? Do we talk about when we weren’t counted as full humans?


Do we remember when we couldn’t vote? How do we measure progress from the enslavement point? Do we mount new statues and monuments? Do we acclaim ourselves? Do we rewrite the documents that govern us to include us? Do we tell our story for real?

Do we do something differently every month to recall? Do we declare it with proclamations from the White House and the governors and the mayors that 2019 will be The Year of the Black Man in America after 400 years? Do we seek full justice?


Do we write books and blogs on our development and progress? Do we examine racism in America? Do we highlight our soldiers and good old southern cuisine? Do we examine our images and portrayals in America? Do we sing and dance about it? Do we write songs about it?

Do we collect ransom dollars? Do we sue America for kidnapping? Do we make stronger demands for reparations? Do we examine the court system? Do we eradicate racism and declare Black people equal with fair and just treatment?


Do we provide special scholarships? Do we make good on the promise of Lincoln for those 40 acres and that mule?

What do we do to recognize Black folks’ 400th Anniversary in America?

Hermene Hartman

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