The NCSL Blog


By Megan McClure

The Virginia General Assembly, along with American Evolution, is commemorating the 400th anniversary of several key historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619 that continue to influence America today.

These events have shaped democracy, cultural diversity, historical traditions and the entrepreneurial spirit of the United States. Below is some information legislators can share with their schools and constituents to help commemorate 400 years of democracy in America.

Student Storytelling through Our American Story

Video promptOur American Story is a digital student contest designed to foster creativity, critical thinking and collaboration among the nation's future leaders. American Evolution wants to hear students’ unique perspectives on the themes of democracy, diversity and opportunity. Students can choose from the following formats to enter the contest: spoken word, video, podcast or performance. Participating is easy: Students choose one of the three video prompts as inspiration and unleash their creativity. Deadline for entries is March 15.

Check out the democracy video prompt and visit the Our American Story website for more information and details about the grand prize.            

2019 Commemoration Schools

Legislators can also share free digital resources with educators and schools in their districts. The project is a yearlong effort to incorporate the spirit of 2019 into your school community and classroom environments. How classes and schools participate is up to them and there are tons of ideas in this online toolkit. Participating schools will receive a free resource kit with engaging materials for students and staff. Is an educator in your district interested in registering and are outside of Virginia? They can email American Evolution

Other resources include historical backgrounders, lesson plans, audio and video resources featuring the Emmy award-winning video series "Guardians of Jamestown, 1619," and the Virginia History Trails app, which contains more than 200 sites and 400 stories that explore the known, untold, and under-told stories of Virginia History.

Nationwide civics-based educational initiatives include the First Freedom Wall, a digital platform to engage students in thoughtful discussion on questions related to the First Amendment. Visit the American Evolution education page for a full list of digital teaching resources.

For more information about American Evolution’s events, programs and educational initiatives, visit You can also connect through social media (@Commemorate2019).

Additional blogs on the 400th anniversary celebration:

NCSL's Civics Education Resources:

Megan McClure is a senior staff assistant in NCSL's Legislative Staff Services Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.