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400th Anniversary of First Enslaved Africans Brought to America

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I rise in recognition and commemoration of the first enslaved Africans who arrived in the United States 400 years ago. In 1619, the first recorded year of African slaves arriving in the land we now call the United States of America, did not know of our future. Our blood lines have continued in this country since that time. Our history in this country began 400 years ago when the first captured and kidnapped Africans were put on a boat from the Kingdom of Ndongo in Angola and landed in North America.

The African slaves who first landed in English North America didn't know that a whole new classification of black people, African Americans, would develop into strong advocates of equality, justice and freedom for people of all nations around the world. They didn't know about Martin nor Malcom; Mahalia nor Michelle; all they knew is that they had to survive. They knew they had to live to fight another day. And here we are still helping to build this great nation, today.

While those first 20 survived, millions of captured, kidnapped, and enslaved Africans did not, they drowned in horrible deaths in the Atlantic Ocean. This period of middle passage was devastating for African people. Those who survived were traumatized by the deadly voyage to a land of slavery, the opposite of freedom. Here in this magnificent Capitol, built by slaves, in this great city, built by slaves, in this great nation, built by slaves, we stand stronger than ever before.

To those who came before us, I honor your sacrifice and continue your fight for freedom. 400 years later, the fight for survival and freedom continues.


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