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John Marshall athletes heading to Africa

The boys and girls basketball teams at John Marshall High School depart for Luanda, Angola, in Africa on Friday, Aug. 24. They will return on Sept. 5.

In announcing the trip Wednesday, Principal Monica Murray, Coach Ty White and student activities director Danyelle Smith said the 23 students will play Angolan basketball teams during their stay. The trip is made possible through the Tucker Family Heritage Tour, which is designed to share untold narratives about the slave trade as told by Angolans, histories of Angola, liberation from Portugal after nearly 500 years of colonization, and the life and leadership of Queen Njinga Mbandi.

“We will include an educational walking tour of the slavery route in Luanda, the Slavery Museum, a journey into the interior of the country to see Pedras Negras (Black Stones of Pungo Andongo), the Kalandula waterfalls, and the historic Fort Massangano,” Ms. Smith said. She added that students also will “enjoy the culture, the people, the food, the arts, natural landmarks and more.”

Vincent Tucker of the Tucker family heritage group also attended the announcement, along with former Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Neil Breslin, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Angola.

The Tuckers, of Hampton, are descendants of the first enslaved Africans that landed in English North America, now known as present-day Hampton.

“It’s a privilege and honor to have young scholars with us to experience a part of history that we’ve only heard portions of,” Mr. Tucker said.

Ms. Murray acknowledged the support of Mr. Fairfax, who offered to sponsor the trip, and NFL player Anthony Harris from Richmond, who helped sponsor the team “in the fourth quarter,” she said.

“This is going to change your lives and you deserve it because you all have done so many great things,” Mr. Fairfax said to the players. “I just hope that you take this experience and change a whole bunch of other people’s lives.”

“Richmond, stay with us. Pray with us,” Ms. Murray said. “We’re excited to come back and let you know about this wonderful experience.”

Ms. Smith said the Angola trip is a field trip for John Marshall’s student-athletes and will conclude with a project and presentation that will make up all school work.

Teachers and staff members will serve as chaperones for this trip.

Source: Richmond Free Press