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VA Descendants Of First Enslaved Africans In North America Return To Ancestral Land

VA Descendants Of First Enslaved Africans In North America Return To Ancestral Land

They went back to their roots! 

The Virginia descendants of the first enslaved Africans in North America have returned to visit their ancestral land, The Grio reports. 

Vincent Tucker and his sister Wanda are the founders of The William Tucker 1624 Society, named in honor of their ancestor who was one of the first recorded children of African ancestry born in Virginia in 1624. The organization is made up of the descendants of William Tucker, many of them still living in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. 

This past September, the sibling historians had the opportunity to meet Angola's President João Lourenco at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). There, they learned more about William Tucker, and his parents, Antony and Isabella, President Lourenco inviting the family to one day visit Angola. 

Last month, the family took him up on that offer, journeying back to their ancestral homeland where they were able to learn more about the history of their family, spending one of their most transformational moments dipping their feet in the Kwanza River, one of the access points for slave ships headed to the port of Luanda. 

“We can just imagine how that journey was for the enslaved - taken down to the river and being hauled away. It was very touching,” Vincent told reporters. 

For Dr. Wanda Tucker, the visit was her second time to the country. This time, with her family in tow, she was able to show them exhibits at the Sao Miguel Museum where they learned more about the colonization of Angola by the Portuguese and the fearlessness of Queen Nzinga, who fought back against them and the slave trade. 

Dr. Tucker said she feels like there is so much to learn for African descendants on both sides of the ocean. “There are so many missing pieces on both continents. I feel empowered to identify myself as Angolan-American now because I know where my family came from, and that’s powerful,” she said. 

Records show that Antony and Isabella were two of “20 and odd” Africans captured from a Portuguese slave ship. From there, they became the enslaved servants of Captain William Tucker and his wife Mary, living and working on their plantation. A plaque located in the Hampton Roads area documents the first Africans arriving in the Virginia area in 1619 on the White Lion, a privately owned ship based in the Netherlands that most likely held a government commission. 

The Tuckers feel their visit was timely, highlighting the impact that the history of 1619 still has on life today, both domestically and abroad. Also, given the current state of the country with legislators trying to limit and ban the teaching of the true history of the United States,  stories like that of the Tucker family denote the importance of connecting the present with the past and examining the intersection of race in every facet of American life. 

Photo Courtesy of William Tucker 1624 Society