The Legacy of Slavery: 400 year anniversary

April 18, 2019

2019 marks the four hundred year anniversary of the arrival of the first shipment of enslaved Africans on the shores of mainland British America. These captives were merely the initial group of forced arrivals in what would become successive waves of captives brought to Anglo-America through the late nineteenth century. The year 1619, therefore, was a deeply significant historical event, and centuries later we are compelled to reflect and consider the legacy of slavery in both the United States and Virginia, where these initial captives landed.

In taking stock of this historical moment, the VCU Humanities Research Center (HRC) together with the VCU history department organized a speaker series titled “Virginia’s Past, Present, and Future,” to shed light onto how slavery has shaped the past and continues to impact society locally and nationally. Working in collaboration with HRC director, professor Richard Godbeer, assistant professor of history Michael Dickenson configured his spring 2019 senior seminar “Slavery and Freedom in American History” in conjunction with the speaker series. Guest speakers graciously met with the class after the talk to answer questions about their research and their vision of slavery’s legacy.

“It was a truly a pleasure to enrich my course with such a vibrant and intellectually engaging speaker series,” said Professor Dickenson. “The students benefited immensely from gaining insight into the work of historians and the contemporary implications of historical oppression through intellectual interaction with leading historians and their groundbreaking work.”

The final speaker for the semester was Professor Leslie Harris from Northwestern University who presented “Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies.”

For more information about Professor Harris’s talk see:

For more information about the 1619 commemoration see: