Mammoth Cave to Commemorate 400 Years of African American History

MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky. (WBKO) -- Mammoth Cave National Park invites the public to join a nationwide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in Hampton, VA, now known as Fort Monroe National Monument, through special ranger led activities on Sunday, August 25.

The park will conduct several Heritage Trail Walks and Porch Talks that highlight African Americans and their legacy at Mammoth Cave National Park, and will participate in a Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony which will begin at 2:00 pm CST at the park visitor center.

Since its establishment on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service has cared for extraordinary historic and cultural sites that are pivotal parts of the American narrative. African Americans played a key role in Mammoth Cave's history as they served as some of the first guides and explorers of the Mammoth Cave system.

The nationwide bell-ringing event is a symbolic gesture to enable Americans from all walks of life to participate in this historic moment to capture the spirit of healing and reconciliation while honoring the significance of 400 years of African American history and culture.

"And bells are seen as a symbol of freedom, they're rung in celebration in sorrow, in joy in commemoration its kind of a universal sound or universal concept of bell ringing," said Mammoth Cave's Public Information Officer, Molly Schroer.

The Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony is a free event being held at national park units across the country. The Mammoth Cave ceremony will begin at the bridge behind the park's visitor center. Participants should be onsite by 1:50 pm CST where a park ranger will lead the group as they ring bells along the accessible Heritage Trail for approximately 0.25 miles to the Old Guide's Cemetery. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own bell to join in the commemoration.

In addition to the Nationwide Bell Ringing Ceremony, park staff will lead several walks and talks which will start at the park visitor center. All activities are free and open to the public with no reservations required. Ranger led Heritage Trail Walks will take place at 9:15 am, 12:30 pm, and 4 pm, and Porch Talks will be held at 10 am and 1 pm.

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