This fall marks the 400th anniversary of the start of the slave trade in the U.S. In August 1619, the first slaveships arrived on American soil (in Virginia), forever linking slavery to the founding of our country and democracy.
This anniversary has created an urgent moment of opportunity for a national reckoning with our past: to center slavery in how we tell the American story, not as a closed chapter but a living legacy that continues to define and constrain social and economic opportunity across racial lines today.
To commemorate this anniversary, the New York Times published the #1619Project, a sweeping series of essays and writings largely by Black authors – essays that re-frame the legacy of slavery but also the history and contributions of Black Americans. “Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written,” writes Nikole Hannah-Jones in the New York Times, “but Black Americans have fought to make them true.”
And to do our part to better understand our community’s own history, we will be sharing a series of short articles about the history of Black doctors, nurses, and patients at Jackson Health System over the last century, told through the eyes of our own members.