Is freedom universal? What does freedom really mean? Questions like these and more will be answered at the 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Symposium.
Speakers from communities that were forced together as a result of the slave trade and European colonialism in Africa and the Americas will join together on Monday, Nov. 11, at the 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Symposium in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History to discuss insights and remembrance in the 400th year since enslaved Africans arrived at Jamestown in 1619.
The symposium is a culmination of the semester-long 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Project, focusing on what the arrival of Africans in the English-speaking colonies meant for European colonists, Native Americans and the Africans themselves, said Stephanie Cobert, the public communications officer for the Stone Center.
Cobert said that instead of using a traditional lecture format, the Stone Center wanted to inspire a flow of ideas and perspectives through discussion between speakers and audience members.
"We wanted to provide a welcoming space for people to have these conversations about what 1619 means on a historical and cultural level and to develop this understanding and think and ask questions that they might not have thought of before,” Cobert said.
The Stone Center hopes that the symposium will lay a foundation for communities to continue having discussions related to topics of 1619 and that people will leave it feeling empowered, Cobert said.
Jessica Krug is an assistant professor of history at George Washington University and a keynote speaker for the 1619 Collective Memory(ies) Symposium. Krug said her scholarship focuses on the history of West Central Africa and on people who ran away from the violence of the transatlantic slave trade.
Krug said her goal at the symposium is to give a more expansive and rooted version of Black history that is not connected to English colonialism and the U.S. nation-state.
“I think the idea of 1619 and its connection to the present is a really important one, but I think it's also kind of a flawed one because it associates Black identity with a specific colonial and national experience in ways that I think are flawed,” Krug said.