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Workshop offered for American Evolution stories

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The year 1619 was a pivotal period in Virginia and the Virginia General Assembly, which was created that year, voted to recognize the importance of this time in Virginia’s history with the American Evolution 2019 Commemoration.

The first group of Africans arrived in Colonial Virginia in 1619 and the decision was made that same year to send a significant number of women to the Colony for the purpose of marrying the men who had already arrived in Jamestown. In addition, in 1619 the Virginia Company, which initiated the settlement of Jamestown in the first place, required settlers to grow more than just tobacco on their lands.

The formation of the General Assembly, the arrival of both Africans and women to the shores of Virginia and the planned diversification of the colonial economy led the creators of the American Evolution 2019 Commemoration to focus on three themes: Democracy, Diversity and Opportunity.

There are several events associated with the commemoration but part of the American Evolution initiative is to gather stories from Virginians living here today. These stories will then be posted on the American Evolution website.

On March 23, citizens interested in submitting personal stories for the American Evolution initiative are invited to come to the Dublin Library to share stories of the past and preserve them for future generations. In addition, Radford University English professor Carolyn Mathews has volunteered to aid anyone who wants to write their story for the commemoration.

“We’re doing a workshop where I’m going to be working with people to brainstorm and think about how to shape their story,” said Mathews. “Then we’re going to help them post those stories on the American Evolution website. It will be handled like a writing workshop.”

The stories can be submitted in writing or in the form of a video but should have some connection to the themes of Democracy, Diversity or Opportunity.

“For example, one of my mother’s ancestors, Samuel Caddall, came to America as an indentured servant and he moved to southwest Virginia,” Mathews related. “He was a teenager; he didn’t come with his family. After he was freed from his seven years of indentured servitude, he fought in the Revolutionary War. Then he went on to be a land owner in Southwest Virginia. He had a farm and his descendants were kind of influential in Pulaski County.”

These stories do not have to be strictly historical. The American Evolution website will accept personal stories related to the commemoration themes of democracy, diversity or opportunity. Better still, when thinking about the historical events of 1619, an individual could explain which of those events stands out most and tell of a personal experience that relates to one of those events.

The American Evolution website suggests that written stories be between 200 and 500 words. If capturing a story on video, its best to rehearse in advance.

Carolyn Mathews will be at the Dublin Library at 300 Giles Avenue in Dublin starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23, to assist anyone who wants to write a personal story for the American Evolution 2019 Commemoration. She will also assist anyone who wants to video their stories as she will have camera/cellphone with her for this purpose.

Finally, Mathews or another member of the local American Evolution Committee, will assist in helping to upload these written stories or videos to the website.

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