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First Africans In Virginia Marker, Fort Monroe

400th Commemoration of First African Landing

ODU Marks the 400th Anniversary of the First African Landing in North America

2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first African landing in North America at Point Comfort (present day Fort Monroe in Hampton, VA). In recognition of this important anniversary, ODU is also planning a number of events during the 2019-20 academic year which will include lectures, conversations, music performances, and other activities to commemorate the anniversary and history of African Americans.

Upcoming Events and Programs

400th Commemoration Art Exhibit featuring artist Ted Ellis


The University is hosting the work of painter Ted Ellis, an artist from Texas known for blending impressionism and folk art. The display is free and open to the public from Jan. 15 through March 1 in the Goode Theatre.

For more information on this exhibit, please read the excerpt from an article published in ODU News. click here.

College of Arts & Letters 'Let's Talk About Our Dream' Lecture Series

The lecture series will be centered around select classes that focus on the history and heritage of African Americas as well as topics of structural racial injustice, inequality, stratification, social justice, and policy implications. The lectures will be organized as panel discussions with invited guests from the surrounding community, providing an opportunity to connect and engage the local community.

Panel discussions are free and open to the campus and community. RSVPs are not required.

Let's Talk About Our Dream: From Plantation to Prison
Thursday, March 26 - 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Hampton-Newport News Room - Webb University Center

Let's Talk About Our Dream: Reparations & Building Community Capacity
Thursday, April 2 - 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
James/Lynnhaven/York River Rooms - Webb University Center

ODU Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Dean’s Diversity Lecture

Nikole Hannah-Jones

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Education Building, Multipurpose Auditorium, Room 1106

1619 and the Legacy that Built a Nation

As the lead writer for New York Times Magazine's "The 1619 Project"—a major, viral multimedia initiative observing the 400th anniversary of the first African slaves arriving in America—Nikole Hannah-Jones explores the lasting legacy of black enslavement on the nation; specifically, how black Americans pushed for the democracy we have today. Nothing we know about American life today has been untouched by slavery: everything from social infrastructure and segregation, to music and sugar have been shaped by it. "The 1619 Project" features all black American authors, activists, journalists and more, spreading its heartbreaking and absolutely essential message worldwide, and in talks, Hannah-Jones explores exactly how, despite our progress, we must remain vigilant in the vital fight against racial inequality: all of our futures depend on it.

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Academic Enrichment

Study Tour to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture

Nat Turners Bible donation

Students participating in an impact learning community will visit the museum to learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience to include the history, pride, struggle, and triumphs spanning more than 400 years through various writings.

Students should register for ENGL 114L: American Writers,American Experiences and complete a course interest form.

Trip Date: Friday, April 3, 2020.

Cost: Free with course registration.

African American and African Studies Topics Class “Let’s Talk About Our Dream”

ODU Student Branded Web Images

Dr. Shuntay Tarver will teach a special topics course as part of the African American and African Studies Program which will focus on the theme: "Let's Talk About Our Dream".

Lecture meets: Tuesdays from 4:20 pm to 7:00 pm in DIEHN 1104.

Course Description: The Let's Talk About our Dream is special topics course designed to commemorate the strength and resilience of African Americans, from their origins in Africa, to current day within the United States. This commemorative course begins with a student debate exploring the historical and contemporary relevance of MLK's I have a dream speech; and concludes with a call to action project that enhances the lives of African Americans. Collaborating with various university, local, and national leaders; this course teaches students how to engage in culturally relevant strategies for engaging African American communities across various contexts.

Course Objectives: 1) re-envision African American history beyond an institution of slavery to an understanding of the resilient innovations of, and contributions to, American culture; 2) deconstruct cultural diversity within African American Culture; and 3) extend a call to action that draws from the strength and resiliency of African American Culture.

Course Format: Tuesday evening seminars

  1. Commemorative Opening
    1. Students will be provided an overview of the historic nature of the course within the context of the 400 year commemoration of the First documented arrival of Enslaved Africans within the U.S.
    2. Opening Debate, students will debate the progress and existing barriers of African Americans within the United States based on the elements outlined in Dr. King's I have a Dream Speech (pre-course reading)
    3. Opening Commemorative Panel
  2. Unit 1: Re-conceptualizing slavery from History to Legacy
    1. Re-examination of African American history from a resilience perspective
    2. Exploring local history of African Americans within Virginia
  3. Unit 2: Exploring Diversity Within African American Culture
    1. Investigation of variation of race, and class within African American Culture
    2. Investigation of variation of gender, and sexual orientation within African American Culture
  4. Unit 3: A call to action
    1. Exploration of political and economic advocacy strategies
    2. Exploration of grassroots advocacy strategies
    3. Let's talk about the dream action projects

Past Events and Programs

Writing A New History: Let's Talk About Our Dream

On Wednesday, September 25th, Old Dominion University began its commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first African landing in Virginia through a program entitled: "Writing A New History: Let's Talk About Our Dream".

Speakers included ODU President John R. Broderick; Lesa Clark, ODU's executive director of the Office of Intercultural Relations; and Addie Richburg, executive director of the 400 Year African American History Commission and president of the National Alliance of Faith and Justice.

The evening also included a dance performance by the ODU African Student Association, Vocal Performance by Dr. Patricia Saunders-Nixon (accompanied by Gloria Boone) of Norfolk State University, and African Drumming and Folktale reading by ODU Alumnus, Corey Staten and his group from Atumpan Edutainment.

For more information, please see the news stories below:

ODU to Kick Off its Commemoration of the First African Landing in Virginia


Speakers Reflect on African American History at 400-Year Anniversary Event


Reclaiming the Profession: Science Teaching and Science Teacher Education as Social Justice

October 11-13, Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, Multipurpose Room

Science Educators for Equity, Diversity and Social Justice (SEEDS) is an organization committed to researching, building, and sustaining transformative educational opportunities in STEM teaching/education with all students through critical engagement. The President's Task Force on Inclusive Excellence hosted the 2019 SEEDS conference as a mechanism to bring together locally and nationally recognized researchers, scholars, educators, and change agents who are interested in fostering a "collective responsibility for creating a just and equitable society through transformative action in/through science."

The 22nd Annual Banjo Gathering

Banjo Gathering Flier

October 24-27, Goode Theatre and Gordon Galleries

Since 1998, the Banjo Gathering has been the platform for banjo collectors, scholars, instrument builders, and musicians to share new findings about the banjo as a historical, cultural, and design object.

Set against the backdrop of Norfolk's 400-year role as a key port city, this year's themes--Banjos Across the Water and Inspirations for Contemporary Banjos--explore how banjo history is shaped by travel, commerce and industry across the world's waterways, and how contemporary makers use historical banjos as well as domestic and international art and design as inspiration for their instruments.

The attendees from across the country, and including representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among other important organizations participated in the events which included a reception and talks at the Hampton University Museum and an indepth dialogue about Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Banjo Lesson painting.

The remainder of the gathering included a large display of historic and contemporary museum-quality objects in the Gordon Galleries, and conference presentations in the Goode Theatre exploring African American history and culture through the lens of the banjo. Old Dominion University Professor Emeritus of English and former Virginia Poet Laureate, Dr. Tim Seibles, composed and presented a new poem to commemorate the occassion.

The full line up is viewable at this link.

35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance

Art, history and commemoration took center stage Old Dominion University's 35th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Observance at the Ted Constant Convocation Center on Tuesday night. The "Writing A New History: Let's Talk About Our Dream" event kicked off a semester-long series of programs and activities at the University that will recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619.

The event also featured a panel discussion on King's legacy. Members included Brenda Hughes Andrews, president and publisher of the New Journal and Guide; Colita Nichols Fairfax, professor and Honors College Senior Faculty Fellow at Norfolk State University; the Rev. Joseph N. Green Jr., former rector of Grace Episcopal Church and ex-vice mayor of Norfolk; and Verrandall Tucker, a business owner and descendant of Anthony and Isabella, who are believed to be the first Africans to arrive in English North America. Addie Richburg, executive director of the 400 Years of African American History Commission, moderated the discussion.

The event also featured:

  • Tim Seibles, Professor Emeritus at ODU and former poet laureate of Virginia, reading his poem titled "Ghost" that he wrote specifically for the event.
  • Patricia Saunders Nixon, associate professor of music/voice at Norfolk State, performing "You Can Tell the World."
  • A reception for the exhibit of Ted Ellis' artwork at Goode Theatre. The exhibition, developed exclusively for ODU, contains more than 20 original pieces that speak to the totality of African American experiences and contributions. His "The Royal First Family" was unveiled at the Big Blue Room.
  • Music from Atumpan Edutainment.

Green feels programs like Tuesday's serve an important purpose.

"I want to thank Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University for continuing to do events like tonight," he said. "For Old Dominion University to get Ted Ellis to come (here), this will help untold generations to know what happened, and they can see it. ... All the art, it's helping us to do this. It's painting a picture."

For more information, please see the news stories below:

ODU to Host "Let's Talk About Our Dream" Panel Discussion to Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 14


Annual MLK Event Kicks off Semester-Long Activities Commemorating the 400th Anniversary of the First African Landing in North America


"1619 to 2019: Four Hundred Years, The Journey Through Music"


A free concert featuring both Old Dominion University and community performers highlighted the 400-year-long journey of African-Americans and their impact on American music through song. The free show was hosted at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 in the Chandler Recital Hall at the Diehn Center for the Performing Arts on 49th Street.

"1619 to 2019: Four Hundred Years, The Journey Through Music" featured music sung by the university's Diehn Chorale and the I.C. Norcom Choral Department, from I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth. The show featured African-American spirituals and gospel songs, music by African-American composers, African songs of freedom, and songs of the Congo, Nigeria, and Ghana.

"The concert is broken into four sections: spirituals, gospel, songs in African languages, and works by African-American composers, and each section of music will be introduced by a musical leader in the African-American community," said Nancy Klein, choral director and director of the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music. "The musical forms found in spirituals, gospel, and jazz are unique to American music and are woven into the very fabric of our national culture."

Speakers included Roy Belfield, director of the Norfolk-based African-American singing group The I. Sherman Greene Chorale; Adolphus Hailstork, composer, professor and eminent scholar the F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music; Elizabeth Eccles, former music director of the I. Sherman Green Chorale; and Joe Harmon, director of the Norcom Chorale and current graduate student in choral conducting at the university.

"There is African influence found in localities throughout the world, but no one country has been so impacted by the influence of African music as our nation," Klein explained. "The musical influence of African rhythm, tonalities and dialects were established from before the foundation of our country and have grown to be an expression of our national history. It is for this reason that we celebrate this music, and those who first performed, and who were inspired to write it."

For more information, visit The F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music website or follow the school on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

College of Arts & Letters 'Let's Talk About Our Dream' Lecture Series

Let's Talk About Our Dream: A Call To Action

Featured Speakers:

Dr. Austin Agho, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Old Dominion University

Dr. Lydia Patton, City Manager, Portsmouth, Virginia

The Honorable Judge Jerrauld C. Jones, former Virginia House of Delegates and Director of Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice

Dr. Janice Underwood, Chief Diversity Officer, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond Virginia

Isaiah Lucas, President, Student Government Association, Old Dominion University (student representative)

The College of Arts & Letters "Let's Talk About Our Dream" Lecture Series is centered around select classes that focus on the history and heritage of African Americas as well as topics of structural racial injustice, inequality, stratification, social justice, and policy implications. The lectures will be organized as panel discussions with invited guests from the surrounding community, providing an opportunity to connect and engage the local community. Panel discussions are free and open to the campus and community. RSVPs are not required.

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