ABOUT THE FILM
As Americans focus on solving the many challenges our country faces today
it is often without a thoughtful consideration of the key events in our early history that helped form our place in the world today.
Across centuries, the long term ramifications of what took place in the seemingly obscure year of 1619 have both bedeviled and helped define the United States. From the initial incarnation of representative government in the New World to the arrival of the first Africans to the English colony, these events played an important part of shaping the American experience. Coupled with two other key events that year, they have remained integral to political and social life in the U.S.
“Evolution of America: 1619 to Today” explores those pivotal events and examines, in depth, their effect on the growth and development of the U.S. and how they resonate today.
“Evolution of America: 1619 to Today” is a legacy project of the 2019 Commemoration, American Evolution, a national observance of the 400th anniversary of key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today.
Governor George Allen, former Governor and Senator from Virginia.Read More
He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1983 to 1991, resigning after he won a special election for Virginia’s 7th congressional district in November 1991. After his district was eliminated during redistricting, he declined to run for a full term in 1992, instead running for Governor of Virginia in 1993. He defeated Democratic Attorney General of Virginia Mary Sue Terry by a large margin and served as the 67th governor from 1994 to 1998.
Barred by term limits from seeking re-election to a second term in 1997, he worked in the private sector until 2000 when he ran for the United States Senate, defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Chuck Robb. Allen ran for re-election in the 2006 election, but after a close and controversial race, he was defeated by Democratic former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb. When Webb decided to retire, Allen ran for his old seat again in the 2012 election but was defeated again, this time by Democratic former Governor Tim Kaine. Allen now serves on the Reagan Ranch Board of Governors of Young America’s Foundation, where he is a Reagan Ranch Presidential Scholar.
Dr. John Coombs, Professor of History, Hampden-Sydney College. He earned a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary. Before his time at Hampden-Sydney, John taught at Florida International University.Read More
In the late 1990’s he served as a Project Archaeologist for both the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Jamestown Rediscovery.
Among his extensive publications on the subject of Colonial Virginia and slavery is “The Rise of Virginia Slavery”, recently published by the University of Virginia Press in Charlottesville.
Dr. Coombs was also a member of the Historical Advisory Board for the 2019 Commemoration.
Suzanne Gould, Historian and Archivist for the American Association of University Women (AAUW).Read More
She has earned graduate degrees in women’s history and library science and has been working in the archives field for 20 years. Suzanne preserves AAUW’s records and enjoys sharing stories about the many fascinating women and events in AAUW’s history.
The AAUW Archives is just one segment of their mission. AAUW has been “Empowering Women Since 1881.” It is involved in research, STEM education, public policy, legal advocacy, and educational funding to improve the lives of women and their families. Since AAUW’s mission encompasses a wide range goals, it is important to incorporate the archives throughout their mission.
Dr. Linda Heywood, professor of African History and the History of the African Diaspora and African American Studies at Boston University. She is a member of the Advisory Board, Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.Read More
She has served as a consultant for numerous museum exhibitions, including African Voices (The Smithsonian Institution), Against Human Dignity (Maritime Museum), the exhibit on 17th on Africa at the Jamestown and Yorktown Settlement Victory Center, and the recently opened exhibit Spirits of the Passage at the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. She was also one of the history consultants and appeared in Henry Louis Gates PBS series African American Lives (2006) and Finding Oprah’s Roots (2007). She was a consultant for Henry Louis Gates PBS series Blacks in Latin America as well as The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. She was one of the major consultants of and appeared in Henry Louis Gates 2017 PBS series African Great Civilizations.
She is the author of Contested Power in Angola, editor of and contributor to Central Africans Cultural Transformations in the American Diaspora, and co-author with John Thornton of Central African, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of America (Cambridge University Press, July, 2007) which was the winner of the 2008 Melville Herskovits Award for the Best Book published in African Studies.
Senator Tim Kaine is serving as the junior United States Senator from Virginia since 2013. He previously was the state’s 38th Lieutenant Governor from 2002 to 2006 and 70th Governor from 2006 to 2010.Read More
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Kaine grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, graduated from the University of Missouri, and earned a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School before entering private practice and becoming a lecturer at the University of Richmond School of Law. He was first elected to public office in 1994, when he won a seat on the Richmond, Virginia City Council. He was then elected Mayor of Richmond in 1998 and was in that position until being elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2001. Kaine was elected Governor of Virginia in 2005 and was in that office from 2006 to 2010. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2009 to 2011.
On July 22, 2016, Hillary Clinton announced that she had selected Kaine to be her vice presidential running mate in the 2016 presidential election, and the 2016 Democratic National Convention nominated him on July 27. Despite winning a plurality of the national popular vote, the Clinton-Kaine ticket lost the Electoral College, and thus the election.
Rev. Dr. William Bobby McClain, former Professor of Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary. Professor McClain met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King was pastoring and McClain was a teen-aged preacher in his hometown of Gadsden, Alabama.Read More
After completing his seminary degree at Boston University, where King had previously received his doctorate, Reverend McClain returned to Alabama in 1962 to work with King and the civil rights movement and to serve as pastor of Haven Chapel Methodist Church in Anniston, Alabama, where he remained until returning to graduate school at Boston University in the fall of 1964.
From 1968 to 1978, Dr. McClain, an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, served as senior pastor of the historic Union United Methodist Church in Boston. During that same period, he taught at Boston College, Harvard University, Northeastern University and Emerson College.
Called on frequently to lecture and preach in major pulpits and universities throughout this country and abroad, he has preached in Africa, Asia, the West Indies, New Zealand, and Europe.
Dr. Sonya Michel, Professor Emerita, American Studies and History, University of Maryland and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.Read More
Her research areas include gender and social policy in the U.S. and in comparative perspective, and she is particularly interested in the relationship between the public and private sectors and social provision.
Among her publications are “Children’s Interests/Mothers’Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care Policy”; “Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States” (co-edited with Seth Koven), and “Child Care Policy at the Crossroads: Gender and Welfare State Restructuring” (co-edited with Rianne Mahon). She is a founding co-editor of the journal Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society. From 2009-11, she served as Director of United States Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.
Chief Anne Richardson, Chief of the Rappahannock Tribe of Virginia. Anne was elected Assistant Chief to her father in 1980. She served in that position for eighteen years.Read More
In 1989, Anne helped to organize the United Indians of Virginia, which was established as an intertribal organization represented by all tribal Chiefs. In 1991, Richardson became executive director of Mattaponi-Pamunkey-Monacan, Inc., that provides training and employment services for Virginia Indians.
In 1998, Anne was elected the first woman Chief to lead a tribe in Virginia since the 18th century, by the Rappahannock Tribe. She is a fourth-generation chief in her family. Under her tenure as Chief, in 1998, the Tribe purchased 119.5 acres to establish a land trust, retreat center, and housing development. The Tribe also built their first model home and sold it to a tribal member in 2001. The Rappahannocks are currently engaged in a number of projects ranging from cultural and educational to social and economic development programs. All geared to strengthen and sustain their community.
She was actively involved with other Virginia tribes seeking Federal recognition, which was finally awarded in 2018.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO and President of the think tank New America and Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University.Read More
She received a B.A. from Princeton, an M.Phil and D.Phil in international relations from Oxford, where she was a Daniel M. Sachs Scholar, and a J.D. from Harvard.
From 2009–2011 she served as director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. Prior to her government service, Dr. Slaughter was the Dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs from 2002–2009 and the J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School from 1994-2002.
Dr. Slaughter has written or edited eight books, including “The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World” (2017), “Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family” (2015), “The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World” (2007), and “A New World Order” (2004), as well as over 100 scholarly articles. She was the convener and academic co-chair, with Professor John Ikenberry, of the Princeton Project on National Security, a multi-year research project aimed at developing a new, bipartisan national security strategy for the United States. In 2012 she published the article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” in The Atlantic, which quickly became the most read article in the history of the magazine and helped spawn a renewed national debate on the continued obstacles to genuine full male-female equality.
Graham Woodlief, direct descendant of Captain John Woodlief, who conducted the first “official” English Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation in December 1619.Read More
He is the former president of Media General’s publishing Division. During his tenure, the division has grown from three daily newspapers to 21 dailies and more than 250 weeklies and other publications in the Southeast.
Woodlief also has served with numerous industry groups, including as president of the International Newspaper Financial Executives and president of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association. He has served on the board of directors of The Associated Press, as the wire service has worked to adapt to the media industry’s rapidly changing landscape.
Dr. Ashley Atkins-Spivey, Director, Pamunkey Indian Resource Center, the tribe of Powhatan, paramount chief of 32 tribes at the time of the English arrival in Virginia. She earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the College of William and Mary.Read More
In 2014, Dr. Atkins-Spivey became a member of the Virginia Board of Historic Resources. In 2017, Virginia Governor McAuliffe appointed Ashley to the Virginia Indian Advisory board. The same year she Joined the American Indian Research Center at William and Mary as tribal liaison and advisor on NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act 1990) and tribal historic preservation issues.
Dr. Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.Read More
He has the responsibility for planning, developing, directing and managing all curatorial, collections, education and outreach programs and activities.
Before joining NMAAHC, Ellis was vice president of the historic area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he oversaw all programs and operations. Ellis was the first African American vice president in the foundation’s history and served in that position for eight years (2001-2008).
He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master in Fine Arts from Wayne State University, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Union University and a doctor of education from the College of William and Mary.
He is the author of two books, “Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey” and “With a Banjo on My Knee”, which chronicles the history of black banjo players from the time of slavery to the present.
Ellis is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Association of Museums, American Association for State and Local History, National Association of Black Storytellers and the National Storytelling Association.
Judge Roger Gregory, Chief Judge, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude from Virginia State University in 1975 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1978.Read More
He worked as an associate for two different law firms from 1978 until 1982. He co-founded the Richmond, Virginia law firm of Wilder & Gregory in 1982 with L. Douglas Wilder (the first African-American to be elected governor in the United States) and became the chair of its litigation section in 1985.
On June 30, 2000, President Bill Clinton nominated Gregory to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Senate confirmed Gregory on July 20, 2001, in a 93–1 vote. Gregory was the first judge nominated to the Fourth Circuit by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate and is the first black judge to serve on the Fourth Circuit. Gregory became Chief Judge on July 8, 2016.
Dr. James Horn, President and Chief Officer, Jamestown Rediscovery Project at Historic Jamestowne. Horn has a D.Phil. from the University of Sussex, England, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.Read More
He has held fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University, the College of William and Mary, and the Warren Center at Harvard University. Prior to joining the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2002, he taught history at the University of Brighton for 20 years, was visiting editor of publications at the Williamsburg-based Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, and was the Saunders Director of the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies at The Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
Dr. Horn, a leading expert on early American history, was formerly Vice President of Research and Historical Interpretation and the O’Neill Director of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. In that capacity, he oversaw the management of programs and operations at Historic Jamestowne for five years under an agreement between Preservation Virginia and Colonial Williamsburg. Preservation Virginia’s agreement with Colonial Williamsburg ended on December 31, 2014.
He is the author and editor of six books, most recently the best-selling “A Land As God Made It: Jamestown” and “The Birth of America and A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke”.
Dr. John Kinney, former Dean of the School of Theology, Virginia Union University, in Richmond, VA.Read More
John W. Kinney, a native of Wheeling, West Virginia, received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Marshall University, and Virginia Union University School of Theology and a Ph.D. from Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary in New York. He is a distinguished systematic theologian, academician and administrator.
He also serves as Senior Vice President of Virginia Union University and Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Beaverdam, VA. Additionally, he has served as Assistant Professor of Theology-Chicago Theological Seminary; adjunct faculty at Randolph Macon College, Ashland, VA; Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, VA and the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA.
He is currently a consultant to the American Baptist Convention, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Baptist General Convention of Virginia and the United States Navy and Army Chaplain Corps. He has served as Chair of the Commission on Accrediting for the Association of Theological Schools. His writings are included in several publications and he is involved is several research activities.
Mike McCurry is best known for having served as the eighteenth White House Press Secretary for Bill Clinton’s administration.Read More
He is a Washington-based communications consultant and is associated with the firm Public Strategies Washington, Inc.
After 35 years in national politics and presidential campaigns, Mike McCurry joined the Wesley Seminary community as a member of its Board of Governors, then as a student and now a faculty member teaching in the area of faith and politics as a Distinguished Professor of Public Theology. He co-directs the WTS-sponsored National Capital Semester for Seminarians.
Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Professor of History and Director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for the Study of the African Diaspora at Norfolk State University, VA.Read More
Dr. Newby-Alexander has also appeared on a number of national programs, including C-SPAN3 with “Richmond Civil War Museum’s 1865 Person of the Year” program “The Freedmen,” “Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Fieldtrip When Freedom Came”, the Emmy winning Henry Louis Gates 2013 series “Many Rivers to Cross”, “Talk of the Nation” in 1998, “Tavis Smiley Presents: The African American Imprint on America” program, and C-SPAN’s 2010 Virginia Sesquicentennial Conference’s “Race, Slavery, and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History.”
Some of her publications included “Virginia Waterways and the Underground Railroad” (History Press, 2017), “An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads” (History Press, 2010), “Vivian Carter Mason: The Community Feminist,” in Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times (University of Georgia Press, 2016), and “Malcolm X,” in The American Middle Class: An Economic Encyclopedia of Progress and Poverty (Greenwood Press, 2017).
Dr. Larry Sabato, American political scientist and political analyst. He is the Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, where he is also the founder and director of the Center for Politics. He has had visiting appointments at Oxford University and Cambridge University in Great Britain. A Rhodes Scholar, he received his doctorate from Oxford, and he is the author or editor of two dozen books on American politics.Read More
In 2013 Prof. Sabato won an Emmy award for the television documentary “Out of Order”, which he produced to highlight the dysfunctional U.S. Senate. In 2014, Prof. Sabato won a second Emmy award for the PBS documentary “The Kennedy Half-Century”, which covers the life, assassination, and lasting legacy of President John F. Kennedy.
Sabato’s many books and essays focus on the American political system, especially national and state elections. In “A More Perfect Constitution: 23 Proposals to Revitalize Our Constitution” and “Make America a Fairer Country” (2007), he argued that outmoded provisions of the U.S. Constitution are partly to blame for dysfunction in American politics. He appeared regularly as a political expert on U.S. news programs. “Sabato’s Crystal Ball”, an election-analysis Web site, was acclaimed for Sabato’s predictions of election results.
Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American elected governor in the United States, leading the commonwealth of Virginia from 1990 to 1994.Read More
A Korean War veteran, as governor, he was commended for his sound fiscal management and balancing the state budget during difficult economic times. Financial World magazine ranked Virginia as the best managed state in the U.S. for two consecutive years under his administration. He served as lieutenant governor from 1986 to 1990.
Serving as a state senator representing Richmond from 1969 to 1985, Wilder became the first African-American state senator in Virginia since Reconstruction. During his five terms as state senator, he chaired committees on transportation, rehabilitation and social services, privileges and elections, the Virginia Advisory Legislative Council and the Senate Steering Committee. He successfully sponsored Virginia’s first drug paraphernalia law and the compulsory school attendance law. For eight years, he persisted in sponsoring legislation that eventually led to establishing a state holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He serves as a Distinguished professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.