National parks across the country will mark the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America today with bell-ringing ceremonies -- including at Prince William Forest Park.
The “Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony” is meant to signal a “day of healing” on the anniversary, which was commemorated in a daylong ceremony Saturday at Point Comfort in Hampton, Virginia, which is now part of Fort Monroe National Monument.
Prince William Forest Park and 419 national parks across the U.S. are inviting the public “to come together in solidarity” to ring bells simultaneously for four minutes—one for each century—to honor the nation’s African American ancestors, according to an event press release.
Each ring will be followed by a minute of silence “to reflect on the African Americans’ journey, legacy and resilience in the United States,” according to an announcement. “Each minute of silence symbolizes a century of history and contributions to our nation.”
The local event will take place from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. at the park entrance at 18170 Park Entrance Road in Triangle.
Speakers include Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood as well as Tanya Gassett, superintendent of Prince William Forest Park and other dignitaries.
Other similar events will take place around the region today, according to a WTOP report.
- On the National Mall, the Bells of Congress, in the clock tower of the Old Post Office, will be rung at 3 p.m.
- Several churches in Georgetown will ring their bells at 3 p.m., as will Peirce Mill, at Beach Drive and Tilden Street in Northwest, where enslaved people were worked. The meditation labyrinth at 33rd and Water streets in Northwest will host speakers and lay a wreath between 2 and 3:15 p.m.
- The Carter G. Woodson Home, at 1538 9th St. Northwest, will feature a performance by the DC Strings at 2:40 p.m. before the bell-ringing.
- The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, at 1318 Vermont Ave. Northwest, will have a ranger talk after the ringing. Both houses will be open for tours after, as well; they aren’t usually open on Sundays.
- The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, at 1411 W St. Southeast, will feature a tour of the house and a public group reading of Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”