Arrival of the First Africans in English America

In 2019, Americans commemorated the four hundredth anniversary of the first documented Africans in English America, who arrived in Virginia from Angola in August 1619. This momentous arrival, an event that inspired new scholarship on the meaning of our nation’s origins and founding principles, as well as fierce controversy over the legacy of slavery. Based on the book the Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia (2020), the documentary considers all the forces at play in this complex story: international politics during the era of European maritime exploration; the rich if not well understood history and culture of West Africa; the role of religion, from the indigenous to the institutionalized; the transatlantic slave trade; and the often-tragic consequences of global financial competition, piracy, and corruption. Most of all, the story of these thirty-two Africans, finally returning to them something that history and all its controversies had stolen: their voices.

  • Ric Murphy
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    53 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 10, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    90,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Vimeo
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Video on Demand
Director Biography

Ric Murphy is an acclaimed historian, educator, lecturer and has received multiple awards for his documentary Arrival of the First Africans in English America (Verity Media, 2023), based on his award-winning book Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia (History Press, 2020). As an award-winning author, he explores the rich tapestry of African American history by weaving together the personal and heroic stories of amazing men and women, and their rich and remarkable contributions to American history, and is published in numerous historical, genealogical, and literary journals, and is the author of numerous publications including Section 27 and Freedman’s Village in Arlington National Cemetery: The African American History of Americas Most Hallowed Ground (McFarland Publishers, 2020); the biography of Rear Admiral Larry Chambers, USN: First African American to Command an Aircraft Carrier (McFarland Publishers, 2017); and Freedom Road: An American Family Saga from Jamestown to World War (Franklin Pearson Publishers, 2014). He is currently working on his next book, Liberty: The Legacy of 1776 and Cuffee’s Lane, expected to be released in the winter of 2024 and The Thirteenth Amendment, expected to be released in the fall of 2024 (History Press).

Ric Murphy’s family lineage has been evaluated and accepted by several heredity societies, including but not limited to the General Society Sons of the Revolution; the National Society of the Sons of Colonial New England; the Sons of the American Revolution; the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Sons and Daughters of the United States Middle Passage; and the Society of the First African Families of English America. Mr. Murphy was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University, Kennedy School; he earned a Masters from Boston University, and a Bachelors from the University of Massachusetts.

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