CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The NAACP held an event in recognition of August 20, 1619, as the day the first enslaved Africans arrived in North America.

There were many speakers at the event, held at the Kelly Miller Community Center in Clarksburg, with performances from Clarksburg’s Mt. Zion Baptist Church Order My Steps Dance Ministry.

The community center holds historical significance in the area, as it served as Clarksburg’s segregated school from 1903 until 1956.

Myra Couch, a NAACP member, said “I want to engage the community, I want to engage my neighbors, I want to have a positive impact on this community, and I think by acknowledging history, past history, present history and also talking the future, that we are able to do that. We’re able to come together and have a positive dialogue in spite of the fact that the events in 1619 and for 400 years after, were challenging,
negative, brutal, hurtful. But, that’s not where we live today. We live in a united Clarksburg, a united West Virginia right now, and we’re out here to come together and bring people together.”

Following the closing prayer, to end the event, many balloons were passed out to be released “as a testimony of hope.”