Published October 23, 2020

This year, the Virginia Africana Associates annual conference was presented as an online keynote lecture on October 23, 2020, by Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Norfolk State University on the topic of historical silences of Africans in early Virginia.

Presented in partnership with Virginia Humanities.

About the Talk

African-descended people have been in the Americas since the late 15th century.  By the 16th century, nearly all the European expeditions included African peoples, both free and enslaved. As the Americas were increasingly populated by non-Native Americans from Europe and Africa, they played a pivotal role in shaping the culture and politics of the various regions. Yet, the historical narrative of this period fails to include the names, faces, and large-scale presence of Africans in the colonization and populations of the Americas.  These historical silences have skewed our perspective of the past, erasing people of color and supplanting it with false narratives. Nowhere were these silences the most obvious but in America’s first colony Virginia, the site where the debasement of Blacks established a model for the future nation.

About Casandra Newby-Alexander

Cassandra Newby-Alexander

Cassandra Newby-Alexander is Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Norfolk State University where she is also a Professor of History and Director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies.  She earned her BA in American Government and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and her PhD in American History from the College of William and Mary in 1992. She was the project director of the 1619 Conference Series, served in various academic and civic roles, received numerous grants, consulted with community groups and published extensively.  Most recently she co-chaired the Governor’s Commission on African American History Education in the Commonwealth.  Dr. Newby-Alexander has a passion for history and for educating the public about our real history. 

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