National parks across the U.S. will commemorate on Sunday the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America, including parks in the D.C. area.
The National Park Service said in a statement that parks and monuments nationwide will ring bells for four minutes at 3 p.m. EDT to honor the captured Africans who were brought to Point Comfort, in Hampton, Virginia — now a part of the Fort Monroe National Monument — beginning the enslavement of Africans in America.
There are a number of other events close by. “All of our parks are participating in different ways,” said Katie Liming, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service. “No matter where you are in this city, there’s a national park that’s commemorating this moment.”
A list of local events:
On the National Mall, the Bells of Congress, in the clock tower of the Old Post Office, will be rung at 3 p.m.
Several churches in Georgetown will ring their bells at 3 p.m., as will Peirce Mill, at Beach Drive and Tilden Street in Northwest, where enslaved people were worked. The meditation labyrinth at 33rd and Water streets in Northwest will host speakers and lay a wreath between 2 and 3:15 p.m.
The Carter G. Woodson Home, at 1538 9th St. Northwest, will feature a performance by the DC Strings at 2:40 p.m. before the bell-ringing. The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, at 1318 Vermont Ave. Northwest, will have a ranger talk after the ringing. Both houses will be open for tours after, as well; they aren’t usually open on Sundays.
The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, at 1411 W St. Southeast, will feature a tour of the house and a public group reading of Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”
The Monocacy National Battlefield, in Frederick, Maryland, will hold a bell-ringing at 3 p.m. to honor the enslaved people on the six farms, as well as the U.S. Colored Troops who enlisted at Monocacy Junction.
The Netherlands Carillon, in Arlington Ridge Park on the George Washington Parkway, will ring at 3 p.m., and people are invited to ring their own bells alongside it. It will also play spirituals and other songs associated with the African-American experience.
Lincoln Park, at East Capitol and 11th streets in Northeast, will host a bell-ringing preceded by a violinist, and followed by a park tour and a talk about the contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune.
There will be guest speakers on the history of African-Americans in the D.C. area before and after the bell-ringing in Prince William Forest Park.
There will be bell-ringings at the Oxon Hill Farm and Fort Washington National Parks, as well as the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The latter will offer a public art class afterward, with all materials provided.
Read more about the Virginia landing on the National Park Service website. Sunday is also the 103rd anniversary of the establishment of the National Park Service.
WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.
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