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January 23, 2004

Colonial Williamsburg commemorates Black History Month with special weekend programs Feb. 20-22, 2004

In recognition of Black History Month, special weekend programs Feb. 20-22 will complement Colonial Williamsburg’s year-round African-American programs that recognize the struggles, contributions and successes of 18th-century African-Virginians and their contributions to America. Colonial Williamsburg is a place of history and a place of truth. As the nation’s largest history museum and restored capital of 18th-century Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg interprets how daily life and the thoughts, actions and social interactions of free and enslaved people of the American Revolutionary era planted the “Seeds of Freedom” for the following generations. It is a place for all to be reminded and inspired. Special weekend programs include:

Friday, Feb. 20

“Public History, Public Trust: Celebrating 25 Years of African-American Interpretation,” 2 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. For 25 years the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has pioneered the interpretation of African-American colonial history in living history museums. Discover the successes and challenges encountered including two controversial programs: the “Estate Auction” of 1994 and 1999’s “Enslaving Virginia” programs. The speakers will be Rex Ellis, vice president of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area division; and Christy Coleman, president and chief executive officer of Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, and former director of Colonial Williamsburg’s African-American programs department.

“Behind the Scenes: Historic Interpreters Perspective,” 4 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Learn about the rewards of interpreting African-American history on the frontlines as historic interpreters. What motivates interpreters despite negative criticisms of portraying and interpreting slavery?

“Jump’n Jonkonnu,” 7 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Enjoy the festive costumes, songs, dances and music of this African-Atlantic Creole masquerade fete. Learn how 18th-century African-Americans celebrated their time off during the holidays.

Saturday, Feb. 21

“Within Our Own Spaces,” 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Historic Area. Journey through Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area houses and outbuildings, and meet members of Williamsburg’s enslaved population as they share their insightful public and private perspective on daily life on the eve of the American Revolution.

“The Runaway: Resistance & Rebellion,” 10:30 a.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Colonial Williamsburg’s dramatic film “The Runaway” explores how and where slaves escaped in the colonial era. Learn about resistance and rebellion when slavery existed in all 13 colonies.

“Education of a Different Sort: African-American Storytelling,” 11:30 a.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Filled with lessons of “moral wit” and moral values, storytelling was an informal means of education and entertainment passed on from generation to generation in the African-American community. Come and enjoy this interactive storytelling program.

“Slavery and the Law,” 2 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., Courthouse. Witness Oyer and Terminer (a commission authorizing a British judge to hear and determine a criminal case) court cases that expose the underlying potential for violence by slaves and slave owners. At 2 p.m. in “Conspire to Murder,” Mary, an enslaved woman, stands trial for her life, for the murder of her master. At 2:45 p.m. in “Without Ill Intent,” William Pittman, a slave owner, is tried for the murder of his slave. Who will testify against him?

“Ethnic Notions of Colonial Society,” 3:30 p.m., DeWitt Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. A series of dramatic programs, “White Goes First” and “Affairs of the Heart,” explore master/slave relationships in colonial Virginia and the legacy of race. Was it a matter of power, or notions of race and class that shaped these relationships?

“Remember Me, When Freedom Comes,” 7 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Through work songs, spirituals and Saturday night gatherings the slave community brings to life the memories of an enslaved African named Paris. Paris longs for freedom as he recounts his experiences from Africa to America.

Sunday, Feb. 22

“Within Our Own Spaces,” 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Historic Area. Journey through Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area houses and outbuildings, and meet members of Williamsburg’s enslaved population as they share their insightful public and private perspectives on daily life on the eve of the American Revolution.

“The Runaway: Resistance & Rebellion,” 10:30 a.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Colonial Williamsburg’s dramatic film “The Runaway” explores how and where slaves escaped in the colonial era. Learn about resistance and rebellion when slavery existed in all 13 colonies.

“Sunday, Go to Meeting,” 2 p.m. Taliferro-Cole Stable on Nassau St. Join 18th-century Williamsburg’s African-American congregation as they put work aside and attend a spirited sermon of the gospel by the powerful voice of Baptist preacher and slave, Gowan Pamphlet.

“Revolutionary Promise: The Struggle to Be Both Free and Equal,” 3 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Jupiter, manservant to Thomas Jefferson ponders, “Could slavery have ended in the 18th-century following the American Revolution?” Listen as slaves, prominent Founding Fathers and French Gen. Lafayette struggle to address the conflicting co-existence of slavery and freedom in the new nation.

A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required for all programs. Reservations are required for all programs in the Hennage Auditorium and the “Within Our Own Spaces” walking tours. A separate evening program ticket is required for the 7 p.m. programs.

Media Contact:
Lorraine C. Brooks
(757) 220-7280



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