Sponsored by

Novelists, Griots, Travel Writers, and Keepers of Sacred Stories

How can one know where he is going if he does not know where he came from? Novelists, griots, travel writers, and sacred storytellers are all forms of gatekeepers that help give us intimate looks into the accounts of our history. The panel discussion on literary translations of 1619 examined how the past has, and can survive in a changing world. Chronicling the good and bad of America in 1619 has taken on many forms in the past centuries. Folklore has quite arguably, been the only way early American culture has been kept alive. Native American culture has an array of legends and myths used by ancestors to describe and explain natural phenomena, the earth and its creation, and ways of conduct. Christopher Columbus and John Smith are important figures in European-American myth, often viewed as heroes and symbols of independence, revolution, and conquest. Along with tactics for planting and landscaping introduced by Africans, Negro Spirituals tell of the oppression they faced as slaves in America, as well as hope and joy garnered from thoughts of better days in Heaven. Examples of culture being passed down through word-of-mouth are evident everywhere. They show how America’s early inhabitants remembered, and continue to remember, 1619. The theme of recognizing the antecedents and foreshadowing events as guides to the future is clearly, well-developed in numerous arenas. The idea of always being in a state of becoming, or building on that which came before, in order to better understand the future, is an early pattern. When asked how we as Americans can continue to remember the events on and surrounding 1619, the room hushed as Dr. Cathy Jackson, of Norfolk State University, responded by reading an old African folktale, and stating, “We need to listen.”