In 1619, the first ship carrying enslaved people arrived on the shores of Point Comfort, Virginia – known today as the Fort Monroe National Monument. The landing represents, by all accounts, the beginning of chattel slavery in English-occupied North America. Today, more than 400 years later, we’re working alongside the Fort Monroe Authority to design the African Landing Memorial, commemorating the site as a place of reflection and remembrance.
The memorial will include three bronze sculptures by artist Brian R. Owens, including a 9-foot-tall, 34-foot-long relief wall. The relief depicts the full story of those who landed at Fort Monroe, beginning with their life in Angola, through their capture, journey through Middle Passage, the landing at what is now Fort Monroe, and trade into enslavement. A second sculpture will depict Anthony and Isabella and their infant son, William Tucker—recorded as the first African birth in the Virginia colonies—while a third sculpture will be an arc with a flame symbolizing hope. Interpretive and contextual elements will be incorporated as part of the memorial’s final design.
Design work is underway with the first phase of work expected to be complete in 2025.