Today is the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to Virginia's shores, an event that marks the beginning of almost 250 years of race-based slavery in North America, another century of Jim Crow Laws, and another half-century of uneven progress.
All these years later, we continue to fight to rid our institutions and society of the vestiges of this barbaric, peculiar system. We must always remember America’s Original Sin, so that we may wisely confront the continuing impacts of institutional racism today: in our criminal justice system, in our economy, and in our society.
As we study what happened 400 years ago in Virginia, think how the history of our country — and the history of our world — would have been different if only the Africans forcibly brought to our shores four centuries ago had been treated identically to the Europeans who came here only a dozen years earlier.
Imagine if the English — and later, the USA — had treated African-Americans, women and men, with the same promises of equality and liberty boldly proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence self-evidently endowed by their Creator.
Now imagine if we only did so today...