The Legacies of 1619

In August of 1619, the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in the North American, British colony of Jamestown, Virginia. This one event has profoundly shaped life in the US today.

This year, institutions and communities throughout the United States, including at Columbia, are commemorating 1619 by examining the links among the 400 years since the start of slavery in the US, the nation’s founding doctrines that enshrined basic individual rights, and the inequities rooted within the institutions we hold dear in this country. We invite you to join events across the University that explore this history and contribute to a more complete telling of the American story. 

View the events listings below and check back often for updates. 


Feb. 2020

Academic Legacies of Slavery

Details will be announced later.




Nov. 2019


Details will be announced later.

Please join students from Columbia Business School and Columbia Law's BLSA, EWOC, and CLWA at a free screening of this powerful feature film about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Details to follow.




Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019

The Legacy of Slavery in the Struggle for Environmental Justice

12:10 - 1 pm | 807 Jerome Greene Hall 

Please join the Columbia Journal of Race and Law for a closer look at the connections between environmental justice and the history of American slavery, featuring Professor Maeve Glass and Alexis Hoag, Practitioner-in-Residence at the Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative and former LDF Senior Counsel. 


Register for The Legacy of Slavery in the Struggle for Environmental Justice.




Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019

Discussion: "Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition"

12:10 - 1 pm

101 Jerome Greene Hall 

Please join Professors Katherine FrankeSarah Cleveland, and Olatunde Johnson and in a discussion focusing on Professor Franke's book "Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition." Lunch will be served. Sponsored by Columbia Law School. 


Register for the Book Discussion: "Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition".


Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019

A Conversation About the Place of Slavery in American Law

4:20 - 5:50 pm

101 Jerome Greene Hall 

Please join Professors Kimberlé CrenshawMaeve GlassJamal GreeneBernard Harcourt, and Kendall Thomas in a thought-provoking discussion that challenges us to consider the constitutive role of slavery in American law starting in 1619, the first year enslaved African people were brought to North America. Light refreshments will be served. Sponsored by Columbia Law School. 


Register for A Conversation About the Place of Slavery in American Law.




Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019

Awakening Our Democracy: The Legacy of Slavery on Public Health

12 - 1:30 pm

Roy And Diana Vagelos Education Center, Room 401

The legacy of slavery has shaped nearly every facet of modern life for all in the United States, and is a driving force behind health disparities in communities of color. Please join us for an important discussion about the long-term impacts of slavery on public health.

Register for The Legacy of Slavery.


Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019

In Conversation: Slavery, Reparations and Reconciliation

12 - 1:30 pm

300 Pulitzer Hall

Join us for a conversation on the legacy of slavery and the question of reparations.

Featuring: Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism as moderator, Katherine Franke, Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Linda Villarosa Journalism Program Director, The City College of NY

Monday, Oct. 14, 2019

An Ecology of Inequality

4 - 5:30 pm 

Vagelos Education Center, Rm. 201

In commemoration of the grim 400th anniversary of the first Africans sold into bondage in North America, the 2019-2020 Grand Rounds series will examine how inequality has been sewn into the fabric of American society with particular impact on health across populations. We invite you to explore these themes with us over the next year. Part of the October 14 Commemoration from the Mailman School of Public Health. 

Register for An Ecology of Inequality.


Monday, Oct. 14, 2019

Neighborhood Conversations

1:30 - 3:30 pm 

Allan Rosenfield Building, 8th fl.

Join faculty and community leaders to discuss public health issues that have significantly impacted our Washington Heights neighbors. Topics to include housing and mass incarceration.

Part of the October 14 Commemoration from the Mailman School of Public Health. 


Register for Neighborhood Conversations.

Friday, Sep. 27, 2019

1919: Black Water Discussion and Opening Reception

6 pm

Buell Hall

An opening reception with artist Torkwase Dyson which begins with a discussion of the 1619 series page and is followed with a conversation with LeRonn P Brooks, moderated by Mario Gooden. Through painting, drawing, and sculpture Dyson responds to the 100th anniversary of the “Red Summer” of 1919, a period of heightened racial violence across the United States. Free and open to the public. Organized by Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Register for 1919 Black Water.


Sep. 25- 27, 2019

1619 and its Legacies: Symposium, Roundtable Discussion and Poetic Reading

Various Times

Columbia Faculty House

Observing the 400th Commemoration of the arrival of Africans in Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English colony in North America. Exploring the ongoing impact and legacy of chattel slavery and anti-Black racism. From the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS). 

Register for 1619 and its Legacies.

Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2019

20 and Odd: The 400-Year Anniversary of 1619 - Closing Reception


Leroy Neiman Gallery

This is the closing reception for the exhibition, 20 and Odd, designed to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of the first documented arrival of Africans landing at the Jamestown settlement in 1619. Curated by Kalia Brooks Nelson, Adjunct Professor with IRAAS in the African American and African Diaspora Studies Program, it will coincide with the IRAAS 1619 conference, and serve as a site to explore this history through images, documents, archival materials and contemporary art. 

Register for 20 and Odd Closing Reception.

Do you have an event related to the commemoration of 1619 that you would like to include in this listing? Connect with University Life

Additional Resources

African American and African Diaspora Studies Department  - African American and African Diaspora Studies is a vibrant intellectual enterprise that has transformed the way we think about the United States and the world. The scholarship produced by these fields has enhanced and transformed disciplines throughout the social sciences and humanities. In establishing the new African American and African Diaspora Studies Department, Columbia University strengthens its leadership in the field.

The Columbia University & Slavery Project - The Columbia University and Slavery project explores a previously little-known aspect of the university’s history – its connections with slavery and with antislavery movements from the founding of King’s College to the end of the Civil War.

Beyond an Ecology of Inequality - article by Robert Fullilove, Professor of Sociomedial Sciences at the Columbia University Medical Center

Reading and Discussions - As part of the year-long observance and exploration of inequality and its impact on population health, Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health will host reading discussion groups each semester. 

Community Events Grant - As part of the 400 year commemoration, the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Culture, and Inclusion from the Mailman School of Public Health will be accepting applications for a Community Events Grant from student groups and the Graduate Student Association (GSA), in addition to offering The GSA Collaboration Fund and Equity Grants. The goal of the Community Events Grant is to support programming that meets our goals of community collaboration.