The 400 Years of African American History Commission (400YAAHC), is a 15-member, federally-appointed commission established to coordinate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies on August 20, 1619.
On April 22, 2023, the commission announced the release of their fourth and final installment of the “Revitalizing America’s Historic All-Black Towns” video series.
The series looks at this rich history, and explores ways to restore, protect, preserve and promote what remains.
This final episode focuses on reparations.
“After the Civil War, African Americans created dozens of all-Black towns as an escape from entrenched racism with available land for economic exploitation and an opportunity to demonstrate Black excellence,” said Hannibal B. Johnson, a 400YAAHC Commissioner and series creator.
“However, only a fraction of these towns exists today, and those that do struggle to remain relevant. As cities and states across the country propose and discuss reparations, we must look at how to repair the damage from the historical racial trauma that caused Black people to need to create these towns in the first place and its impact on generations of Black families,” he continued.
The upcoming episode features Kevin Matthews, Oklahoma State Senator; N.Y. Nathiri, executive director of The Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, Inc., and Ahmad Ward, executive director of the Mitchelville Preservation Project.
“We’d like to thank all of our experts across the country who have helped bring this critical programming to life, sharing their expertise and perspectives on the past, present and future of Black people in America,” said Addie L. Richburg, executive director of the 400 Years of African American History Commission.
“As the Commission continues to recognize and highlight the resilience of African Americans, we must also acknowledge the painful impact of slavery, racial discrimination and racism on the U.S.,” she concluded.
The series finale builds on previous episodes which offered a robust, substantive and thoughtful look of how America’s all-Black towns were created, who led the movement to build them, and how remaining towns can leverage their history collectively to market themselves and create economic opportunities.
Photo of Emancipation Day celebration is courtesy of Mitchelville Preservation Project.
This final episode premiered on April 24, 2023, at 7pm on the Commission’s website 400YAAHC.gov, and on its dedicated streaming television channel on SMOGO television.