2019 Signature Events
These major public events, beginning in early 2019 and continuing throughout the year, will commemorate the historic events of 1619 and highlight their impact on the evolution of American democracy, diversity, and opportunity over the past 400 years.
Global Emerging Leaders Summit
March 6-13, 2019
Charlottesville, Richmond, and Williamsburg, Virginia
The original settlers of Jamestown were by and large young pioneers who changed the world. The Commemoration plans to bring young political, governmental, and civic leaders from over 50 countries to the “Presidential Precinct” (the restored homes of U.S. Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, all near Charlottesville), Colonial Williamsburg, and the grounds of two leading American universities. During a week long event, the emerging leaders along with Virginia students from leading academic institutions, will reflect on the challenges of leadership, governance, and civic engagement in both 21st-century democracies and states aspiring to democracy. The event will be held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, the College of William and Mary, and the University of Virginia, as well as other organizations such as the British Embassy in Washington, DC.
Cultural Arts World Premiere
Norfolk, Northern Virginia/DC, Western Virginia, Virginia
American Evolution has commissioned the Virginia Arts Festival to create a cultural arts performance that deepens our understanding of the original three cultures of Virginia (Virginia Indian, English, and African) and the ongoing impact of diversity in America today.
Over the next two years, the Virginia Arts Festival will work with members of world-renowned performing arts groups such as the Richard Alston Dance Company and the Dance Theatre of Harlem to choreograph a new work that will have its world premiere as a part of the 2019 Commemoration. Three premiere performances and educational outreach programs are planned for the 2019 season.
International Forum on the Future of Representative Democracy
July 31-August 1, 2019
Richmond and Williamsburg, Virginia
The first “General Assembly” composed of men from each of Virginia’s eleven major settlements met for the first time at Jamestown from July 30-August 4, 1619, planting the seed of democracy in America. American Evolution will bring together Heads of State and representatives from democracies around the world, including the British Parliament, members of U.S. Congress, and representatives from state legislatures nationwide. The International Forum will highlight the historic impact of democracy on our nation and its impact on the world. A series of “watch parties” will be launched through social media to engage young people worldwide, and a special ceremonial session of the first “General Assembly” will be held in Williamsburg.
1619: Making of America Summit
September 27-28, 2019
Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Virginia
This two-day cross cultural event will begin with an exploration of the contributions and influences of Virginia’s three founding cultures (Virginia Indian, English, and African). This expanding cultural tapestry of our nation will be explored by celebrated scholars, artists, film makers, musicians, and students from throughout the nation. Conversations and interactive panel discussions (in person and online) will cover a range of topics that are relevant to the cultural heritage and diversity of our nation 400 years after the cultural convergence of 1619.
Women’s Achieve Summit
October 15-16, 2019
This two-day summit will be a multi-faceted, interactive event to honor women 400 years ago, today, and in the future. The focus of each day will be unique; on the first day, Women’s Legacy in America and the second day, A Vision of the Future of Women in America. On both days, workshops will engage participants (attending and online) in conversations regarding the role of women in all aspects of society, business, and community, and the power of women’s involvement and sensibilities.
Virginia Thanksgiving Festival
November 3, 2019
Berkeley Plantation, Virginia
Upon their safe arrival at Berkeley Hundred on December 4, 1619, a group of English settlers held a ceremony of Thanksgiving which was to be observed annually and perpetually, marking the occurrence of the first official English Thanksgiving in North America. This Thanksgiving ceremony is reenacted every year at the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival, which also features crafts and games for children, strolling re-enactors and entertainers, a schedule of programs around the grounds, food, and a vendor area with additional educational tables.
Customs, Cultures, and Cuisine Festival
November 8-10, 2019
This multi-day signature event will be staged on the grounds adjacent to Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg. The event will honor the early beginnings of America and the three cultures present in Virginia in 1619 (Virginia Indian, English, and African) and celebrate their contributions, as well as the contributions of immigrants from other cultures that have helped to shape our nation over 400 years. A fully interactive and immersive living-history and entertainment program will be offered.
The festival will present traditional and contemporary expressions of food-ways and sources. Continuous music and performance sets will showcase the cultures and styles that make up our America. Artisans from around the country will converge at the festival to educate and inspire audiences.