Nearly 100 years before George Washington would sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Egya Amkwandoh was kidnapped from his native Ghana and brought to North America to be a slave.
Amkwandoh was given the new last name, “Quando,” which later became “Quander,” and he became the first member of what is now considered the oldest documented African American family.
The Quanders were moved to Virginia, where they were enslaved by the Washington family at their Mount Vernon Estate.
Now, more than 300 years later, one of Amkwandoh’s distant relatives, Rohulamin Quander, is a tour guide at George Washington’s Virginia estate. He spoke to the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs Academy fellows about his genealogy, and why we should remember the contributions slaves made to the founding of our nation.
“We hear about the Hamiltons and the Madisons and the Jeffersons. Well, do we hear about the enslaved people who made sure the crops were in, made sure the fishing was proper, who made sure the distillery was run?” Quander asked.
“They were the ones who were the backbone so that George Washington could go off and become the father of our nation.” — said the great ancestor of Egya Amkwandoh.
Watch Rohulamin Quander explain some more in video below:
Credit: Student producers/videographers/editors include: Nick Hinojosa of Etiwanda High School in CA, Jaycie Iha of Maui Waena Intermediate School in HI, Mary Williams of Hughes Stem High School in OH, Isaac Hernandez of Cedar Ridge High School in TX. Mentor support provided by Gina Gray of Dalton Middle School, GA and Elis Estrada of the PBS NewsHour.