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March 22, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg Presents Programs on African American History This Season

Colonial Williamsburg highlights African American history this spring with special programs. Thousands of African captives, including members of noble families, were forced to come to colonial Virginia. Princes Without a Palace: Tracing African Princes and Captives in Williamsburg connects the slave trade with the people, places and events in Williamsburg.

The program, which is free to all pass members and ticketed guests, provides an overview of the business and politics of the slave trade in Virginia, Africa and Europe. Discover the stories of African princes and the role that language, literacy and religion played in their efforts to escape slavery at 11:30 a.m. on March 29, April 5, 12, 26, May 10, 17, 24, June 7 and 14 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, 326 W. Francis St., Williamsburg.

Other African American history programs, which are free to all pass members and ticketed guests, include:

  • Her Enduring Spirit tells the story of Edith Cumbo, a free African American woman, who offers a unique perspective on life in Williamsburg. Join her as she conducts her business and learn about the active roles that women play in Williamsburg and nearby cities. 11 a.m. March 24, 31, April 7, 14, 21, 28, May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, 9 and 16 at the Lumber House Ticket Office.
  • Jane’s Struggle addresses the realities for mulatto (biracial) women who appeared white in Virginia? Jane, like many biracial, free blacks in Virginia, struggled with her racial and political identity in the aftermath of the American Revolution. Jane hoped that the ideals of “man’s natural rights” would improve the lives of the free black communities. 11 a.m. March 25, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3, 10 and 17 at the Great Hopes Plantation.
  • Martha’s Decision, Oney’s Choice discusses more about the story of Martha Washington’s favorite slave, Oney, who has run away. Hear from both of these women, the president’s wife and her attendant, as they try to figure out what happened in a relationship that was so close and yet so distant. 12:30 p.m. on March 26, May 7, 14, 21, 28, June 4 and 11 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
  • Workin’ the Soil, Healing the Soul explores what daily life was like for rural slaves. Learn about the work they performed and the integral role slavery played in the Virginia economy. Find out how the ruling class coerced and controlled the enslaved population and discover how slaves resisted, survived and drew strength from the unique community they built. Weather permitting. Not suitable for young children. 2 p.m., March 27, 31, April 3, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28, May 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29, June 2, 5, 9, 12 and 16 at Great Hopes Plantation.
  • Freedom Denied: Slavery in the Time of Liberty tells the stories of 18th-century Williamsburg residents and how their victories and defeats marked the first steps on the road to our modern-day quest to be both free and equal, and about the struggle of African Americans to gain liberty and equality during the era of the American Revolution. Using key documents from the period, this tour explains aspects of law, religion and social custom that established and maintained a system of slavery and oppression. Leave this event with a better understanding of the variety of means by which enslaved and free African Americans navigated and resisted this system. 10 a.m. March 29, April 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, June 7 and 14 at the Lumber House Ticket Office.
  • Daniel’s Dilemma features an enslaved foreman, Daniel, who struggles with his identity when his responsibilities as a foreman, for which he and his family receive extra privileges on the plantation, come into conflict with his allegiance to the enslaved community. 11 a.m. March 30, April 6, 13, 20, 27, May 4, 11, 18, 25, June 1, 8 and 15 at the Great Hopes Plantation.

    For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY, or visit

    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 by the generous support of the National Endowment of Humanities, Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Parsons, Douglas N. Morton, 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, Dominion Foundation 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

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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