American Evolution™ Legacy Projects

American Evolution Legacy Projects are commemorative programs and events designed to create a lasting legacy that will live far beyond 2019. While many projects will leave behind a physical legacy such as a monument or exhibition, others are designed to inspire perpetual activity and scholarship.

Virginia History Trails App

Stories in more than 300 locations statewide: DOWNLOAD NOW

The Virginia History Trails Application will feature over 400 stories of the dynamic places and people that highlight the first 400 years of Virginia history. Through a customized digital platform, the trail experience will promote tourism while inspiring, educating and stimulating awareness of Virginia’s role in the creation of the United States; engaging new generations to pursue a deeper understanding of our shared history.

Montpelier Roundtable on James Madison and the American Constitution

June 12-13, 2018

James Madison’s Montpelier, Orange, Virginia

The fourth annual Montpelier Roundtable on James Madison and the American Constitution roundtable brings scholars to Montpelier whose research and writing specialize in James Madison, his political thought, and the creation of the American Constitution. It will provide scholars with an opportunity to gather and discuss their work in an open, collaborative, and inspiring environment. It is our great hope that this roundtable will serve to strengthen the ties amongst the community of scholars studying James Madison, and will from year to year bring those engaged in that work to his home, Montpelier.  Video and digital archives of the proceedings will be available following the event.

Virginia Thanksgiving Festival

November 4, 2018; November 3, 2019

Berkeley Plantation, Charles City

The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival is held annually the first Sunday in November at Berkeley Plantation to commemorate the December 4, 1619 arrival at Berkeley Hundred of the good ship Margaret, under the command of Captain John Woodlief. Woodlief and 35 settlers sailed from Bristol, England to land at Berkeley and celebrate the first English Thanksgiving in the New World. The Virginia Thanksgiving Festival re-enacts this historic event as part of an afternoon program that ends with the playing of Taps and a Friendship Dance with the Chickahominy Tribal Dancers. Other events and activities throughout the day include crafts and games for children, strolling re-enactors and entertainers, a schedule of programs around the grounds and on the stage, food, and a vendor area with additional educational tables.

TENACITY: Women in Jamestown and Early Virginia Special Exhibition

November 10, 2018-January 5, 2020

Jamestown Settlement, Williamsburg, Virginia

This year-long special exhibition will feature captivating and little-known personal stories from three cultures – Virginia Indian, English, and West Central African – that illustrate the 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 history such as the sphere of influence within each culture, shared experiences, contributions to the early economy, education and keeping culture, innovators and outliers, rights in society, and exploitation.

Evolution of America: 1619 to Today Documentary 

January 2019

Nationwide distribution

“Evolution of America: 1619 to Today” will be a broadcast one-hour documentary that explores the events and issues of this seemingly obscure, but decisive year and how that year affected the growth and development of the U.S., which still resonates today. Produced in partnership with Cinebar Productions, Inc., Maryland Public Television will serve as the presenting PBS station for national marketing and distribution.

The Great Charter and the General Assembly: Founding a Legacy in 1619

January 9-December 31, 2019

Virginia State Capitol Visitor Center

The Great Charter and the General Assembly is an exhibition produced in two forms, including a wall panel exhibit to be mounted in the  Virginia State Capitol Visitor Center and a set of pull-up banners for statewide distribution to partners. The content highlights the historical origins of the Virginia General Assembly in the Great Charter of 1618, which abolished martial law, allowed property to shift to private ownership, and authorized the governor to summon a General Assembly to act on legislation. The exhibition includes the legacy of representative government, which became the model adopted for the establishment of the government of the United States.

Faith Journeys in the Black Experience 1619-2019

March 19-21, 2019

Virginia Union University, Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Council of Churches, and the 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. What ideologies and religious beliefs motivated the Jamestown explorers? How did certain theologies of the role of mission and the church provide support and legitimacy for conversion and exploitation?

Historic Jamestowne: Democracy & Diversity

Open April 15, 2019-September, 2019

Historic Jamestowne, Williamsburg, Virginia

Jamestown Rediscovery and the National Park Service will focus on 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. Projects will include:

  • Public archaeology featuring excavations open to the public in and immediately around the Memorial Church at Historic Jamestowne. The excavations will investigate the remains of the original church built in Jamestown in 1617, where the first General Assembly was held.
  • New educational and exhibition materials in the Memorial Church will illustrate archaeologist’s work at the site of the original 1617 church and explore the significance of the first General Assembly in 1619, contact with the Powhatan Indians, and the arrival of the first Africans to English North America.
  • Participation in programs where one of the first documented Africans in Virginia, “Angela,” lived in the mid-1620s. It is the only known accessible site that can be directly associated with the documented occupation of one of the first Africans to arrive in English America.

Souls Grown Deep: African American Art at VMFA

June 8, 2019-November 17, 2019

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA

Timed to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia in 1619, this special exhibition celebrates the extraordinary contributions that African American artists have made to art and culture since that time. The exhibition will include paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings and quilts from the VMFA’s permanent collection and will feature recent acquisitions of works by contemporary African American artists from the Southern U.S. The cultural origins of these artworks can be traced back to the African Diaspora, slavery, and the Jim Crow era of institutionalized racism. Working with little or no formal training, and often employing cast-off objects and unconventional materials, artists created visually compelling works that address some of the most profound and persistent issues in American society, including race, class, gender, and religion. This exhibit will reflect the Commonwealth’s and nation’s historical diversity and complexity, cornerstones of the 2019 Commemoration.

Determined: The 400-year Struggle for Black Equality

June 19, 2019-January 5, 2020

Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Richmond, VA

The Virginia Museum of History & Culture exhibition will explore the African American experience from the arrival of the first Africans in English North America in 1619 to the present day. Throughout this 400- year-long history, blacks have been central to debates about America’s national identity, as well as to American economic, political, and cultural life. This exhibition charts the advances and setbacks, the triumphs and trials of African Americans on their long and unfinished journey toward full equality by focusing on a series of key Virginians and key Virginia events—individuals and events that shaped the broader contours of American history. A range of objects (such as works of art, manuscripts, ephemera, and other artifacts) and interpretive materials (including gallery labels, oral histories, digital content, and interactive features), along with a slate of educational programs, will help diverse audiences engage with this richly complex history.

New Virginians: 1619-2019 and Beyond

December 10, 2018-December 7, 2019

Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia, working in partnership with Virginia Humanities, is developing a statewide project that explores the implications of immigration and the experiences of immigrants as they come to Virginia. Some come to this country seeking new opportunity; others as refugees fleeing war and hardship. Keeping in mind that the stated goals of 2019 Commemoration include exploring the historical and continuous journey toward the ideals of America and fostering an honest and serious discussion about diversity and the challenges of blended cultures, the Library of Virginia’s exhibition explores the experience and impact of immigration and looks toward the future of an increasingly diverse Virginia. Interviews conducted by Virginia Humanities will form the core of the exhibition, which will be both an artifactual exhibition installed at the Library and a traveling exhibition that will travel to throughout Virginia.

African Arrival: Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center Dedication Ceremony

August 23-25, 2019

Fort Monroe, Hampton, Virginia

To commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in English North America, Fort Monroe will host a weekend of events featuring ceremonies, educational programs, music and the dedication ceremony of the new Visitor and Education Center. The center will be housed in the renovated former Coast Artillery School Library at Fort Monroe and the addition of two wings. These galleries will tell the profound stories of Captain John Smith and the Virginia Indians he and the other colonists met on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, and the hundred of contrabands that were sheltered there during the Civil War.

“Voices from the Garden” Women’s Monument Dedication

October 14, 2019

Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia

The Virginia Women’s Monument, Voices from the Garden, will set a standard as the first monument in the country located on state capitol grounds to recognize the full range of women’s achievements. The monument will feature 12 life-sized bronze sculptures of prominent Virginia women, a Wall of Honor inscribed with the names of other notable Virginia women, and a bench listing milestones in women’s history.

The 12 women chosen to be depicted as bronze statues in the Virginia Women’s Monument represent women from all corners of the Commonwealth, across a variety of ethnicities and time periods. They represent both widely-celebrated women as well as those with previously unknown, but equally important, stories. It is hoped that Voices from the Garden will inspire current and future generations of women to emulate and surpass the achievements of the past.

Emancipation Proclamation and Freedom Monument Dedication

October 2019

Brown’s Island, Richmond, Virginia

Dedicated to the contributions of African American Virginians in the fight for freedom,  the monument will feature a 12-foot bronze statue representing newly freed slaves and will highlight notable African American Virginians through time. The statue will commemorate the contributions of Mary Elizabeth Bowser, William Harvey Carney, Gabriel, Dred Scott, Nat Turner, Rosa Dixon Bowser, John Mercer Langston, John  Mitchell, Jr., Lucy Simms, Wyatt Tee Walker, and African American Virginians who have fought for freedom.

Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Film Festival

November 15-18, 2018; November 14-17, 2019

Byrd Theatre, Richmond, Virginia

Organized to foster greater awareness of and give exposure to indigenous languages, cultures and societies, the Pocahontas Reframed: Native American Storytellers Festival is well on its way to being recognized as the most important American Indian film festival on the East Coast. The event, being held in the historic Byrd Theatre in Carytown in Richmond, features four days of film and live performances celebrating Native American stories and storytellers. Pocahontas Reframed is unique in its intention to bring in the entire artistic delegation associated with each film to interact with Festival attendees. These artists, authors, cineastes, and actors are able to discuss and share their passion for cinema with audience members. The Festival also provides a platform for academic and experiential learning opportunities open to tribal members, students, educators, and the public.