February 7, 2017
We can’t think of a better time or better content to start the I@O Experience blog. February celebrates Black History here in the United States. The Eastern Shore is rich in history for all, yet has an especially powerful history for our African American brothers and sisters. Here is just one example of the thoughtful events taking place on the Shore to acknowledge Black History Month.
Charlie Landis (author of The Virginia Eastern Shore, An Introduction to the History of the Virginia Eastern Shore. A Collection of Essays on Important Events and Persons 1614-2014) stopped at the Inn to introduce himself and talk for a while on the history of the Shore. One compelling story he shared can be found in an essay in his book that teaches about the controversial history of Anthony Johnson. After filing a suit in 1655, Mr. Johnson holds the unfortunate claim of being the first black man to own another black man. Although not known for certain, records indicate that Johnson came to the Eastern Shore in 1635 as headright on a plantation on Hungars Creek. It is in that same year that his owner, Nathaniel Littleton, gave Johnson his freedom. By 1655, Anthony Johnson and his family owned 900 acres of land and had five servants, both black and white.
Johnson’s potentially polarizing story echoes throughout our country’s history: he started out here in an unchosen and difficult place, he labored to overcome his circumstances, and ultimately, he surmounted obstacles we can’t imagine to make a better life for his family.
Our history is our history, despite the many instances of which we are not proud, but there are lessons to be learned from every event and every person who has made this country what it is today.