Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration, AMERICAN EVOLUTION™, will feature events and activities inspiring local, national, and international participants to engage in the themes of democracy, diversity, and opportunity while building awareness of Virginia’s role in the creation of the United States and positioning the Commonwealth as a global leader in education, economic development and tourism.

To learn more about our 2019 Signature Events and Legacy Projects, click here.

For information about public AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ leadership meetings, refer to the Commonwealth Calendar. Read about your FOIA Rights & Responsibilities here.

2017 Events

Thursday, February 23, 6 p.m.

Jamestown Settlement - 2110 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185


"Queen Njinga of Angola: Reflections on Gender, Leadership, and Women's Place in Politics"

The 2019 Commemoration presents a lecture and book signing by Dr. Linda Heywood, “Queen Njinga of Angola: Reflections on Gender, Leadership, and Women’s Place in Politics.” Dr. Heywood, author of the recently-released historical biography “Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen,” will explore the global vision that informed Njinga’s leadership, and make connections to issues relevant to the status of women in today’s world.

The event is free, but space is limited and RSVPs are required. To reserve your space, email us at

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February 25

Hampton History Museum, Hampton, Virginia

Give Me Liberty Exhibit Hampton History Museum

"Give Me Liberty: Fugitive Slaves and the Long Revolution Against Slavery"

Opening at the Hampton History Museum on February 25, the groundbreaking exhibition “Give Me Liberty: Fugitive Slaves and the Long Revolution Against Slavery” explores the lives of over 30 fugitive slaves from Hampton who made journeys to freedom or took up arms against their enslavers during periods of war.

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March 1 - May 14

March to Mother's Day

March to Mother's Day

A digital campaign designed to raise awareness of 400 years of women's history in Virginia, and support fundraising for the Virginia Women's Monument in Richmond's Capitol Square.

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March 2 - 4

Norfolk State University

Virginia Forum

The Virginia Forum is an interdisciplinary conference that brings together historical professionals from all fields to share their knowledge, research, and experiences.

The Forum's 2017 theme is "Who Are We?: Identity and Memory in Virginia."

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March - June

2017 Virginia Arts Festival

Virginia Arts Festival

Featuring incredible works of art from some of the world's greatest composers, choreographers, and playwrights, the 2017 Virginia Arts Festival will include several performances related to the historical events and themes of the Commemoration, including Kathleen Battle's Underground Railroad, the world premiere of Urban Bush Women, the Richard Alston Dance Company, and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

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April 10 - 16

Charlottesville, VA

2017 Tom Tom Founders Festival

Tom Tom Founders Festival

A week of music, art, and innovation held over Thomas Jefferson's birthday week that converges hundreds of bands, start-ups, artists, and visionaries with the purpose of celebrating creative founding.

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November 5

Berkeley Plantation - Charles City, VA

2017 Virginia Thanksgiving Festival

Virginia Thanksgiving Festival

Commemorating the arrival of 35 settlers under Captain John Woodlief to Berkeley Hundred on December 4, 1619, where they observed the first official English Thanksgiving in the New World.

In 2017, the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival will be a featured component of the 2019 Commemoration's "Customs, Culture & Cuisine" Festival, along with the Williamsburg Harvest Festival (Nov. 4-13) and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation's "Foods and Feasts of Colonial Virginia. (Nov. 23-26)".

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November 17 - 19

Byrd Theatre - Richmond, VA


Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival: Native American Storytellers

The 2019 Commemoration is proud to sponsor the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival, November 17-19 at the Historic Byrd Theatre in Richmond, VA. The festival will create a forum for stories influenced by the lives and experiences of American Indians in the Commonwealth and beyond.

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2016 Events

August 19-21

Fort Monroe Coastline Ships

African Arrival Day

Commemorating the arrival of the first Africans to English North America in August 1619.

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October 27

First Official Thanksgiving Ad

"The First Official Thanksgiving" Documentary Release

"The First Official Thanksgiving," a legacy project of the 2019 Commemoration, premieres on October 27 at 9 p.m. on WCVE and WHTJ. Sponsored by the Virginia Thanksgiving Festival and produced by Community Idea Stations, the documentary will tell the story of the first official English Thanksgiving in North America, which took place on December 4, 1619.

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November 6

First Thanksgiving

Virginia Thanksgiving Festival

Captain Woodlief led settlers in prayer and ordained the date of their arrival as a holy day of Thanksgiving, marking the first official observance of Thanksgiving in the English colonies.

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