- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2006

WILLIAMSBURG (AP) — Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and television and radio host Tavis Smiley plan to be key participants in events during the 18-month commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 1607.

Justice O’Connor will be honorary chairwoman of the commemoration of the first permanent English settlement in America, and Mr. Smiley will lead a symposium, “The African-American Imprint on America.”

“America’s traditions of representative government, free enterprise and cultural diversity have their roots at Jamestown,” the recently retired Justice O’Connor said yesterday.

“The commemoration is a rare opportunity for all Americans to better understand the foundations of our nation as we work together to shape our country’s future.”

The commemoration will begin this spring when a re-creation of the Godspeed, one of three ships that brought the settlers to Jamestown, embarks on an 80-day goodwill sail with visits to six major East Coast cities.

Justice O’Connor will be a spokeswoman for the commemoration and will participate in select events and programs, including America’s Anniversary Weekend from May 11 to May 13, 2007, which will feature cultural events, historical pageantry and ceremonies, and the World Forum on the Future of Democracy in September 2007.

“I am delighted that Justice O’Connor is once again answering the call to service,” said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat. “The 400th anniversary of Jamestown offers us a unique opportunity to examine not only the beginning of our nation, but also its future.”

Justice O’Connor also will be formally installed as chancellor of the College of William & Mary in April.

Organizers said Mr. Smiley will bring his annual State of the Black Union symposium to Virginia on Feb. 9 and 10.

“Jamestown changed the world in many ways, but perhaps it shaped our nation most profoundly the day Africans arrived,” Mr. Smiley said. “I can’t think of a more relevant place to talk about the issues facing our community today than the place where African culture became American culture.”

Some activities related to the symposium will take place at Virginia’s five historically black colleges: Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Union University, Virginia State University and Saint Paul’s College. Topics will include religion, politics, music and the arts.

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