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July 8, 2011

African American Roles in Shaping American Identity Explored through Engaging Programs in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and Art Museums

Colonial Williamsburg guests experience an assortment of programs this summer highlighting the significant impact of African American culture on the development of America. In the colonial capital of Virginia, where more than 50 percent of the population was of African ancestry, free and enslaved African Virginians played an instrumental role in shaping the continuous national quest to achieve the ideals of a democratic society.

In “Spirit of Liberty” former slave Gowan Pamphlet recalls the promises of the Declaration of Independence and other events of 1776 as they impact the enslaved community. The program will take place at 2:15 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 2, except July 22, at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Tickets are included in all Historic Areas or museum admission passes.

“Princes Without a Palace: African Princes and Captives in Williamsburg” connects the Atlantic slave trade with Williamsburg buildings, events and people. The program explores the diversity of class, culture and religion among the thousands of African captives in Virginia and the Atlantic World during the American Revolutionary era. The program is presented at 3 p.m. July 28, and Aug. 11, 18 and 25 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Tickets are included in all Historic Area or museum admission passes.

“Freedom Denied: Slavery in the Time of Liberty” allows guests to learn about the struggle of African Americans to gain liberty and equality during the era of the American Revolution. Visitors will gain a better understanding of how enslaved and free African Americans navigated and resisted this system. The walking tour begins at the Lumber House Ticket Office at 10 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through Sept. 2. Tickets are available with any Historic Area Pass.

Guests also can participate in a walking tour with Edith Cumbo, a free African Virginian woman. In “Her Enduring Spirit” Edith Cumbo offers a unique perspective on life in Williamsburg. Join her as she conducts her business and learn about the active roles that women played in Williamsburg and nearby cities. The program takes place at 10 a.m. Saturdays through Sept. 3, except July 30, Aug. 6 and 13. Tickets are available with any Historic Area pass.

In colonial Virginia the majority of enslaved Americans lived in rural areas. At Great Hopes Plantation, visitors can explore what daily life was like in “Workin’ the Soil, Healing the Soul.” Guests will experience the integral role slavery played in the Virginia economy at 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays through Sept. 3. Tickets are available with any Historic Area pass.

“Daniel’s Dilemma” offers guests the opportunity to meet an enslaved foreman, Daniel, who struggles with his identity when his responsibilities as foreman, for which he and his family receive extra privileges on the plantation, come into conflict with his allegiance to the enslaved community. The program takes place at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Fridays from July 8 through Sept. 2. The program occurs at the Mary Stith House with tickets available with any Historic Admission pass.

In “Jane’s Struggle” a free mulatto woman struggles with her racial identity and the nuances of a society where her complexion can be both beneficial and harmful. This program takes place at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 4 at the Mary Stith House. Tickets are available with any Historic Area Admission pass.

Guests will be able to keep the rhythms, sing the songs and dance the dances adapted from West African people during colonial America in “African American Music.” The event occurs at Great Hopes Plantation at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 25 and 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 27. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six-17 and $6 for children under six.

“Papa Said, Mama Said” lets visitors meet enslaved people who have learned cultural morals and values from the stories of the past as told by their elders. At the Courthouse, guests explore oral African traditions. The program is at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 28. Additional programs are available at 7 p.m. July 11 and 26, and 8:30 p.m. July 9. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six-17 and $6 for children under six.

For more information or reservations, call 1-800-HISTORY.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

Colonial Williamsburg’s African American programming is made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Parsons, Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown, the Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Charles E. Culpeper Endowments in Arts and Culture of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Altria Client Services, AT&T, Philip Morris, IBM and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, with more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum exhibits the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670–1830.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are located at the intersection of Francis and South Henry Streets in Williamsburg, Va., and are entered through the Public Hospital of 1773. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For museum program information, telephone (757) 220-7724.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization 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. 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 website at www.history.org.

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121



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