American Evolution™ Signature Events and Legacy Projects

Signature Events

400 Years of Women’s Achievements

September 2018

Northern Virginia/DC

In November 1619, 147 English women were recruited to come to the Virginia Colony, setting in motion 400 years of achievements in American history. The commemoration will partner with leading national women’s organizations, media outlets, and the public to identify the most significant women’s accomplishments over the past 400 years. A nationally televised gala is planned to recognize these women and their accomplishments to the evolution of America.

400 Years of African American Impact

February 2019

Northern Virginia/DC

The first recorded Africans in English North America arrived at Point Comfort, Virginia in late August 1619, marking the moment when African history became a powerful and indelible influence on the development of our nation.  The commemoration will partner with leading national African American organizations, media outlets, and the public to identify the most impactful African Americans over the past 400 years. A nationally televised event is planned to recognize the impact of African Americans on all aspects of our American evolution.

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 United States Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, all near Charlottesville), Colonial Williamsburg, and the grounds of two leading American universities. During a weeklong 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 United States 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.

Innovation Nation @ Tom Tom Founders Festival

April 13-21, 2019

Charlottesville, Virginia

A series of new laws passed in 1619 allowed Virginia colonists to experiment with various industries and helped set the groundwork for

America’s free enterprise system. The result was Virginia becoming America’s original start-up. To engage young people in the Commemoration, a year-long effort to identify leading entrepreneurs and innovators from across Virginia and the region will culminate in Innovation Nation at Tom Tom Founders Festival, creating a national platform to showcase Virginia’s entrepreneurial and innovative talent.  The commemoration will also recognize the most important start-ups during the 400-year American evolution, to commemorate our free enterprise system and its influence on the world.

Cultural Arts World Premiere

May-June, 2019

Norfolk, Northern Virginia/DC, Western Virginia, Virginia

The commemoration has commissioned the Virginia Arts Festival to create a cultural arts performance that deepens our understanding of the original three cultures of Virginia (Indian, English, and African-American) 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 Richard Alston Dance Company and the Dance Theatre of Harlem to choreograph a new work that will have its world premiere as part of the AMERICAN EVOLUTION™ 2019 Commemoration.  Three premiere performances and educational outreach are planned.

International Forum on 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. The commemoration 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.  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 the exploration of the contributions and influences of the three founding cultures African, Native Peoples, and English. 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 later.

Women’s Achieve Summit

October 15-16, 2019

Richmond, Virginia

The 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 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. The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival event will showcase cultural performances and a re-enactment of the first official English Thanksgiving in North America. A charitable “Ride of Thanks” on the Virginia Capital Trail from Jamestown and Richmond to Berkeley Plantation is being considered as well.

Customs, Cultures, and Cuisine Festival

November, 2019

Williamsburg, Virginia

This multi-day culminating signature event will be staged on the grounds adjacent to Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg.  Guests will experience a wide spectrum of cultural traditions including art, music and food. There will be opportunities to meet and engage with the artisans, and see and hear great performances from traditional to contemporary musicians.

The event will honor the early beginnings of America with the three cultures present in 1619 Virginia English, African and Virginia Indian and celebrate their contributions as well along with those of other cultures and immigrants that have helped to shape our nation over 400 years. A fully interactive 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 is our America.  Artisans from around the country will converge at the festival to educate and inspire audiences. This festival will provide tastes, sounds and sights, and create a true sense of place for America in the world’s art and cuisine scene.

Legacy Projects

The Women of Jamestown Special Exhibition

November, 2019

Jamestown Settlement, Williamsburg, Virginia

A year-long special exhibition will feature captivating and little-known personal stories from the three cultures – Powhatan Indian, English, and West Central African – to illustrate roles women played in the founding years of the United States of America.

Using objects, images and primary sources, this story-driven exhibition will explore key themes in women’s histoy such as the sphere of influence within each culture, shared experiences, contributions to the early economy, as education and keeping culture, innovators and outliers, rights in society and the exploitation.

1619 America: The Year Before the Pilgrims

January, 2019

Nationwide distribution through PBS

“1619 in America: The Year Before the Pilgrims,” is a hour-long documentary being produced by Cinebar Productions, Inc. that explores the events and issues of this seemingly obscure, but decisive year, and how that year affected the growth and development of the United States.

Maryland Public Television has formally expressed interest in being the presenting station for national marketing and distribution of the program due to the strength of the concept and the established success of the production team.

Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center

August 24, 2019

Hampton, Virginia

The Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center is a Legacy Project that will tell the greatest untold story in American history. Prominently located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, this stone fortress and the surrounding moat are not only unique to America but also important to African Americans today. The history of Point Comfort and the story of “Freedom’s Fortress” represents an opportunity to show our citizens where the first enslaved Africans arrived in our country and where the first enslaved people who escaped were declared contraband of war The Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center will inform Americans of this history and create a safe haven where education and communication can begin with a fresh understanding of our history.

First Africans in Virginia: Impact and Legacy Public Exhibition

February-August, 2019

Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia

A public exhibition – with free admission – is the logical next step in the evolution of the Virginia Historical Society’s database of Virginia slave names project. Unknown No Longer has proven to be a vital tool for those people searching for the names of African-American ancestors. As a part of the 2019 Commemoration, the Virginia Historical Society will develop a special gallery exhibition and planned traveling exhibit that will be available to venues across Virginia. Due to the fact that Virginia, especially Richmond, was a primary selling and trading center of enslaved people, in this story will be national.

Historic Jamestowne: Democracy & Diversity Special Exhibition

TBD, 2019

Historic Jamestowne, Williamsburg, Virginia

In 2019, Virginia and the nation will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in the western hemisphere and the arrival of the first Africans in mainland English America. Both events are closely connected to the hallowed ground at Historic Jamestowne. The General Assembly was held in Jamestown’s church in the summer of  1619, and of the first two dozen Africans forcibly transported to Virginia several lived and worked in Jamestown, on neighboring plantations, or passed through on their way up river.

The exhibition and activities will focus on a number of issues of enduring significance: the establishment of representative government and rule of law, protections for private property, and sustained encounters among different peoples – Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans – who first came together at Jamestown.

Remembering Jamestown II: The Missiology of Jamestown 1619 and Its Implications

November, 2019

Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia

In 2019, the Virginia Council of Churches and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor     School of Theology at Virginia Union University will convene a conference focusing on “The Missiology of Jamestown 1619 and Its Implications” to explore long-standing assumptions related to Christian mission. The conference and resulting publication will focus on religion in 1619 Jamestown, its impact on Native Americans and Africans, and the origins of a religious and culturally diverse 21st-century America.

“Voices from the Garden” Women’s Monument

October 14, 2019 Dedication

Richmond, Virginia

The first in the nation monument dedicated to women on state capitol grounds will be in Virginia. The dedication ceremony will recognize the full range of women’s achievements by honoring 12 historic Virginia women enshrined by the monument. It is proposed that the dedication ceremony be held on Columbus Day and be open to the public.

Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Film Festival

November, 2019

Richmond, Virginia

The mission of the Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Film Festival is both educational and cultural.  The Film Festival will showcase new films which do not have access to cinema screens and commercial film distribution in the United States. The Film Festival allows students, and the general public to learn about, appreciate, and enjoy American Indian, First Nations and Indigenous culture(s), language(s), and cinema.