Why this year's Black History Month is pivotal

Peniel Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor of history. He is the author of several books, most recently "Stokely: A Life." The views expressed here are his. View more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN)2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of 19 enslaved Africans, brought to mainland English North America for the first time. The Africans who disembarked in Jamestown were captives stolen first by Portuguese slave traders and then by English pirates who sold them into bondage in what would become the United States of America. This scene ultimately s