EDITOR’S NOTE: Weekend Read is a new project by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Content Curation Desk. The team will take a deeper dive at issues that affect Georgians and others throughout the nation. Today’s topic: The 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project started with an essay in The New York Times last August that brought renewed attention to a largely hidden history — the beginnings of American slavery more than 150 years before the signing of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

The first settlers were also under orders from the British crown to prioritize the search for precious metals and to obtain food by trading with the local natives. Persistent hunger and discomfort led to strife and distrust between the colony’s leaders, while mosquitoes and famine killed thousands.

It was during this time that the first 20 or so indentured servants from Africa arrived in the British colonies for the first time at Point Comfort, Virginia, near Jamestown in 1619.

It was 127 years after Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492 and 157 years before Thomas Jefferson penned the iconic words of the 1776 American Revolution that declared “all men are created equal.”

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