‘Angela Site’ Reveals Life for Some Enslaved African-Americans

‘Angela Site’ Reveals Life for Some Enslaved African-Americans

After months of excavation, archaeologists conclude the former Virginia settlement is the "only known accessible site" directly associated with first Africans to arrive in English America

by Shantell E. Jamison, December 6, 2017

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‘Angela Site’ Reveals Life for Some Enslaved African-Americans

Photo: NBC News

Colonial National Historical Park is more than a landmark. According to NBC, archaeologists say the former settlement in Virginia is the “only known accessible site that can be directly associated with the documented occupation of one of the first Africans to arrive in English America.”

The weather-worn property is 400 years old and trench-lined with faded bricks. It is housed not too far from the James River.

Kym Hall is the superintendent of the park. The unprecedented discovery on Jamestown Island made her emotional as she spoke with a small crowd gathered around her during a recent tour with NBC News.

Just one of the nine enslaved Blacks who lived in Jamestown in 1625 was identified by name after she arrived on a slave ship in 1620.

Her name? Angela.

“The story of ‘Angela’ is about a woman and the empathy that comes from what this woman in history experienced,” Hall told NBC News. “Who would she have missed? Who would she have left back in Angola? Who would she be worried about and wondering about? What were her fears about the unknown?”

According to historical records, the woman was a servant in Captain William Pierce’s household. He served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor.

Officials say Pierce and his family lived on a portion of land in New Towne from 1625 to the mid-1640s. The remains of his home were discovered by archaeologists in a field overlooking the James River.

Angela was captured from Angola and was forced on a slave ship by the Portuguese (the Sao Ja Bautista) in 1619. It sailed from Luana and bound for Vera Cruz on the coast of Mexico.

The boat carried 350 enslaved Africans, but only 147 arrived in Vera Cruz.

“I’m looking at ground where she [Angela] stood, I’m looking at a river she would have looked at,” Hall said. “If people can take the time to stand where Angela stood, to understand who she is, maybe the idea of what she experienced will be a message of hope, even though some people want to pretend this [slavery] wasn’t a big deal.”

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