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2020 Excellence in Immersive Storytelling finalist

1619: Searching for answers

About the Project

We thought we understood the origin of slavery in America and the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade, but we didn’t. Not until USA TODAY reporters revisited the question last year.

USA TODAY, with 1619: The Search for Answers, made history personal. It was personal for Wanda Tucker, who is – as best as can be established – descended from the first Africans to set foot on the English colonies. It is personal because she can’t put a name or face to so many of her ancestors, because their identities were stripped for them and they were treated as something other than human.

For many African Americans, documented history was never kept. What was kept was destroyed – purposefully, in many cases, and over many years. To go back and “prove” Wanda Tucker’s family story as a Founding Family of America was impossible. But it’s also a story that millions of African Americans can relate to, which is why we took great lengths to go back as far as we could, through documents and then 7,000 miles away to Angola.