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Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Launches Campaign Commemorating 400 Years of African American History in North America


​Harrisburg, PA - In August 1619 the first enslaved Africans were brought to the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia. Today, the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) joins with the 400 Years of African-American History Commission, other cultural and historical institutions, and media organizations to commemorate this legacy and recognize the contributions made by these enslaved and later free people by launching a social media campaign. Through February 2020 PHMC will share highlights from the hundreds of Pennsylvania Historical Markers dedicated to African Americans and their contributions to Pennsylvania's rich and diverse heritage.

Each week PHMC will feature selected stories to highlight the multifaceted African American experience across Pennsylvania and will include both well-known and lesser-known people, places and themes. PHMC will share these over all of its social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn — and encourages its thousands of followers to share these posts using the hashtag #400yearsPA.

Marking historic places that embody and represent the African American experience in Pennsylvania is intended to be educational. The physical markers provide a critical link to the stories of the people in all our communities.

PHMC administers the Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program to enlighten and inform passersby about various aspects of history that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries. Markers provide a brief snapshot of important histories and are intended to initiate conversations, further exploration and research, and broaden our understanding. These stories make up the fabric of Pennsylvania.

Today's marker program was established in 1945. Since that time, PHMC has approved and installed more than 200 markers reflecting the significant stories of African Americans in Pennsylvania. The recognizable blue-and-gold roadside markers introduce travelers to the people, places, events and innovations of African Americans in 35 of the commonwealth's counties.

PHMC encourages Pennsylvania Historical Marker nominations of subjects that tell the diverse stories of Pennsylvania's history. Nominations of markers may be submitted by any individual or organization. The annual deadline for marker nominations is December 1.

In addition to telling the stories represented on historical markers, PHMC is continuously working to document and interpret African American history in collections at the Pennsylvania State Archives and through experiences at The State Museum of Pennsylvania and along the Pennsylvania Trails of History.

The 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act was signed into law January 8, 2018. The law established a 15-member commission to coordinate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies. The vision of the commission is to ensure that Americans of all ethnicities will be more aware of the immense sacrifices and prodigious contributions made by African Americans to our nation over the course of the last 400 years.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online at or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639

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