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October 30, 2009

November weekend celebrates 30 years of African American programming by CW

Colonial Williamsburg’s yearlong celebration of 30 years of African American programming takes center stage again with a special weekend Nov. 14-15 highlighting African Americans during the American Revolution.

“Shaping Our Destiny: The African American Pursuit of Liberty” serves as an inspirational beacon for numerous narratives of the lives of African Americans during a time of tremendous turmoil and uncertainty. Many African Americans actively pursued liberty and independence, making choices that could and would determine their individual and collective fates.

Guests will be inspired by the paths chosen and the travails and triumphs of both free and enslaved African Americans during momentous times. Special weekend programs will explore options available to African Americans of the period, including military service, petitioning, active and passive resistance, and seizing personal autonomy.

“Brothers in Arms: Determined to Persevere” explores camp life and daily work of African American soldiers and camp followers on both sides of the American Revolution and is presented 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Magazine.

“In Their Own Words: African Americans in the American Revolutionary Era” provides insights into the struggle to be both free and equal despite laws, religion and social customs. The walking history tour is offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“Freedom’s Paradox” at the Peyton Randolph House leads Saturday guests to discover how 27 slaves responded to the unexpected death of their master and to an offer of freedom to slaves.

Following Lord Dunmore’s abrupt departure from Williamsburg in 1775, his abandoned servants ponder their fates as they await an auction that may separate them forever. “What Holds the Future” is offered at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in the Governor’s Palace Garden.

Guests may explore traditional African, Caribbean and Anglo-American herbal medicine, superstition and religion in “Healing Hands,” a conversation with free black Edith Cumbo in the pasture behind the Cabinetmaker’s Shop at noon Sunday.

“Revolutionary City: The Quest for Freedom” presents pivotal events in Revolutionary-era Williamsburg 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. Saturday that shaped a developing African American community. Guests meet free and enslaved African Virginians who sought liberty and autonomy wherever they could find it while discovering how the choices they made helped shape their destiny.

Saturday evening presents the opportunity to look back at 30 years of African American presentation during a spirited discussion lead by the people who made it happen. “Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward” is presented 6 – 7:15 p.m. in the Hennage Auditorium of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

“Shaping Our Destiny: The African American Pursuit of Liberty” presentations require a Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Card.

Colonial Williamsburg’s African American History programs have been made possible through the corporate support of the Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Charles E. Culpeper Endowments in Arts and Culture of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, AT&T, Philip Morris and IBM, and generous individual support from Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Parsons, and Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281