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1619-2019: 400 Years of Resilience

Welcome to the Resource Guide that accompanies Salisbury University’s “1619-2019: 400 Years of Resilience” series. Use the links in the navigation box to the left to view a collection of materials that focuses attention on the perseverance of African-descended people in the United States against numerous systems of oppression since 1619. That year is significant because it marks the first time Africans arrived in Virginia which was then a British mainland North America colony. Forced onto a slave ship in present-day Angola and sent across the Atlantic Ocean on a ship initially bound for present-day Mexico, these enslaved Africans were part of a much larger system of slavery being developed by numerous European powers. Their arrival in Virginia in 1619 marks a very significant event in the history of the Chesapeake region as well as the United States. For approximately 250 years, slavery shaped the economic, political, social, and cultural development of the United States and the numerous European colonies that preceded it. The massive growth of slavery paralleled the expansion of the United States. As enslaved people labored in fields, homes, mines, and factories from present-day Maine to present-day California and most places in between, the system of slavery and its legacies became deeply imbedded in all areas of American life. Well after the Civil War, African Americans encountered laws and social practices reminiscent of those that existed during slavery.

Under these conditions, free and enslaved people of African descent suffered immensely. They also resisted. They fought back in hundreds of documented slave rebellions and countless other ways against people who claimed them as property. They protected their families, traditions, and cultures when and where they could. At every turn, they and their allies remained resilient. They, like the Native Americans enslaved, displaced, and murdered by Europeans throughout North and South America, kept alive their histories in written, performative, and oral forms. This resource guide catalogs some of these individuals and their defiant actions in Maryland and other parts of the United States. Their resilience in the face of such odds serves as the pivotal idea in Salisbury University’s “1619-2019: 400 Years of Resilience” series.

This guide focuses attention on the period including slavery because slavery was legally protected for longer than it has been outlawed during the combined history of the United States and the British colonies that formed it. This guide also includes resources that focus on different periods after the Civil War to highlight the trials and successes of African Americans in a changing nation. This Library Guide is divided into four sections, each of which includes resources that provide broad, contextual information as well as specific material on well-known as well as less-known individuals and events.

This guide is only one introduction to these topics, just as 1619 is just one of many starting points regarding the topic of slavery and the ways it has shaped the United States and its peoples.

Introductory Resources

All materials for this guide were compiled by Dr. Aston Gonzalez, Assistant Professor of History at Salisbury University. Guide assistance was provided by Angeline Prichard, Librarian.