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January 27, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg’s Black History Month Programs Tell Stories of 18th-century African Virginians Struggling to be Free and Equal

During Black History Month, Colonial Williamsburg takes guests on a journey to explore the story of a people who challenged the political and societal norms to make a better future for themselves and the next generation. Throughout February, special programs in the Historic Area and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum explore various stories of the people and culture.

New this year is the three-day program, “More Than Slaves,” Feb. 24-26. This weekend program presents the universal story of people seeking political, economic and social change. Programs include:

  • “What Eyes Have Seen, Ears Have Heard,” 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, Peyton Randolph House. Discover how Johnny and Eve, trusted enslaved members of the Peyton Randolph household, gathered and used information to improve their circumstances. Admission is included in all Historic Area admission passes.
  • “Change is Coming!” 2:30 p.m., Feb. 24, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Participate in a worship service with preacher Gowan Pamphlet as he delivers a sermon proclaiming that American freedom cannot thrive without ending slavery. Admission is included in all Historic Area and museum admission passes.
  • “Freedom to Slavery,” 11 and 11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m., Milliner Shop. Hear the compelling story of Elizabeth, an enslaved African American woman, forced back into slavery after living free with the Shawnee Indians on the western frontier. Reservations are required. Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.
  • “Ain’t I Free?” 11:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Join Edith Cumbo and discover what it means to be free and black in Revolutionary Virginia. Explore how she and others have acted to seek the rights and privileges of citizens. Admission is included in all Historic Area and museum admission passes.
  • “Defying Slavery,” 10, 10:30, 11 and 11:30 a.m. and noon, Saturday, Feb. 25, Raleigh Tavern. Explore the evolution of slavery in Virginia and how African Americans challenged notions of liberty and freedom. Admission is included in all Historic Area admission passes.
  • “Jane’s Struggle,” 11 and 11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Mary Stith House. Examine the realities of mulattoes who appeared white in Virginia. Jane’s skin color and features often caused strangers to assume that she was white. Did she have enough white ancestry to be legally classified as white? What are her options to escape the limitations based on her racial identity? Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.

    Other programs held throughout February include:

  • “Daniel’s Dilemma,” 11 and 11:30 a.m. and noon, Fridays, Feb. 3 and 10 at the Mary Stith House. Meet Daniel, an enslaved foreman, as his responsibilities for which he and his family receive extra privileges on the plantation conflict with his allegiance to the enslaved community. Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.
  • “Discover Gee’s Bend Quilts,” 1:30 p.m., Fridays, Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24. Explore the unique African American quilting traditions and history of Gee’s Bend, Ala., while exploring two examples in the museum’s collection. Families then can discover their creativity with a hands-on activity. Admission is included in any Historic Area or museum admission pass.
  • “Freedom to Slavery,” 11 and 11:30 a.m., noon and 12:30 p.m., Saturdays, Feb. 4 and 11, Milliner Shop. Hear the compelling story of Elizabeth, an enslaved African American woman, forced back into slavery after living free with the Shawnee Indians on the western frontier. Reservations are required. Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.
  • “African American Folk Art,” 10:30 a.m., Mondays, Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Examine 18th- and 19th-century folk art created by or depicting African Americans and discover what the art tells us about their lives. Admission is included in any Historic Area or museum admission pass.
  • “Jane’s Struggle,” 11 and 11:30 a.m. and noon, Thursdays, Feb. 9 and 16 at the Mary Stith House. Examine the realities of mulattoes who appeared white in Virginia. Jane’s skin color and features often caused strangers to assume that she was white. Did she have enough white ancestry to be legally classified as white? What are her options to escape the limitations based on her racial identity? Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.
  • “Defying Slavery,” 10, 10:30, 11 and 11:30 a.m. and noon, Saturday, Feb. 11, Raleigh Tavern. Explore the evolution of slavery in Virginia and how African Americans challenged notions of liberty and freedom. Admission is included in any Historic Area admission pass.

    For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit www.history.org.

    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 the National Endowment for the Humanities, 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 and IBM.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

    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. 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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