Virginia is the birthplace of American slavery and segregation — and it still can’t escape that legacyBreaking News
tags: slavery, racism, segregation, Confederacy, Virginia, Blackface, White Supremacy, Ralph Northam
At the end of August 1619, a British privateer, the White Lion, arrived at Point Comfort, Va., with cargo it had seized in a battle with a Portuguese slave ship. The take wasn’t much, “not any thing but 20. and odd Negroes,” tobacco planter John Rolfe wrote.
But the ship needed “victuals.” The Virginia colony’s governor had them. And a deal was struck: the White Lion’s human merchandise for food, “at the best and easiest rates.”
Thus arrived in Virginia the first documented Africans on the mainland of English North America, according to historian James Horn.
Over the next 400 years, Virginia was to be the nursery and battleground of slavery, a land of segregation, lynchings and white supremacy, and home to unbending racial oppression and the myth of the Confederate “lost cause.”
As Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in recent days mulled resigning over a racist photograph in his medical school yearbook, and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said he dressed in blackface during college, the modern state continues to struggle with its past as a champion of slavery and an opponent of equality.