The better we know our racial past, the better we know our racial present. The United States is a fairly young country, just over 400 years old if we date its beginning from Jamestown's settlement. For much of this history, extreme racial oppression in the form of slavery and legal segregation was our foundational reality. The first successful English colony was founded at Jamestown in 1607, and in 1619 the first Africans were purchased there by English colonists from a Dutch-flagged slave ship. It was exactly 350 years from 1619 to 1969, the year the last major civil rights law went into effect officially ending legal segregation. Few people realize that for most of our history we were a country grounded in, and greatly shaped by, extensive slavery and legal segregation.