First African Landing Day events set for Intervale Saturday

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 5:32 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Saturday marks the fifth Annual Vermont First African Landing Day. Events are scheduled at the Intervale Center to recognize the contributions of African Americans and acknowledge the impacts of slavery.

“Everyone’s finally going to get to see and know our history and know more about where we originated from,” said Antoinette Bennett-Jones, one of the event’s coordinators.

The tradition started four years ago when Governor Phil Scott marked August 24 as the First African Landing Day.

“It’s exciting. The weather is giving a little challenge to it but to the theme -- it’s about persevering through whatever conditions

and actually celebrating through any conditions,” said Kenroy Walker, one of the organizers.

This year’s theme is “Through the fire.” Experts say it represents the strength and resilience of American descendants who endured slavery.

“I’m excited to see the whole community there,” said Dieuna Beynnon, one of a group of interns who helped make the event possible. “I just want to get the whole experience. And I also helped put this thing together and so I want to see how it plays out as well.”

“It makes me feel empowered just knowing the struggles I faced as a Black American woman -- I kind of feel like the phoenix,” Bennett-Jones said.

Officials say it the event is inspired by the creation of the 400-year African American History Commission and the 1619 Project. “Being able to celebrate culture and blackness throughout going through systemic racism. Like not just being black but also other races too,” said intern Christina Adolphe.

The event is being hosted by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.