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January 15, 2008

CW observes Black History Month

In observance of Black History Month, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area will present several special programs during February. These moving interpretive presentations focus on the daily lives and struggles of African Americans - both free and enslaved - during the tumultuous times of 18th-century Virginia.

A free screening of “No Master Over Me,” part of Colonial Williamsburg’s award-winning Electronic Field Trip series, will be shown in the Bruton Heights School Lane Auditorium at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Feb. 7. Ann Ashby tells the story of her life as a free black during the days of slavery. Discover how she and her husband, Matthew, made a life for their family after Matthew purchased his wife and children and had them freed. This story of balancing between slave and free communities is a poignant reminder of what freedom is really worth.

“Slavery and the Law” will be presented from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Feb. 17 and 24 at the Capitol. This interactive interpretation examines the lawmaking process that governed the institution of slavery since the early 18th century. Legislation discussed, debated and enacted from the colonial capitol often had a dramatic, if not life-altering, impact on the fates of enslaved African Americans. Discover the crucial role Williamsburg’s Capitol building played in determining the destinies of slaves and free blacks alike.

Feb. 23 and 24 is Colonial Williamsburg’s annual Black History Weekend. In keeping with this year’s theme, “The Road to Freedom,” powerful characterizations and dramatic interpretive programs throughout the Historic Area will bring to life stories of the African American struggle for freedom during the tumultuous times of the American Revolution. Presentations include:

  • God Save the King, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Public Gaol. Talk with enslaved men Joe and Dick and discover how their quest for freedom landed them in the Williamsburg Public Gaol.
  • A Long Cold Walk, 1:30 p.m. Saturday from the Gaol to the Courthouse. Joe and Dick are marched from the Gaol to the Courthouse, where they will be questioned by the local authorities about their efforts to join the British Army.
  • Examination of Joe & Dick, Black Loyalists, 2, 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Courthouse. Members of the Williamsburg Committee of Safety listen to the testimonies of Joe and Dick before rendering their judgment. (limit 120 guests per experience)
  • White Goes First, 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hennage Auditorium in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Witness a private and intimate conversation between Thomas Jefferson and his manservant Jupiter as they play a game of chess. (reservations required, limit 250 guests)
  • From Ear to Ear, 7 p.m. Saturday at the Hennage Auditorium in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. An exciting hour long concert, “From Ear to Ear” embarks on a musical journey that begins in Africa, travels to the Caribbean and then to America. Hear the intricate rhythms of Africa and discover how African music was reshaped and transformed into a distinctly ‘soulful’ 18th-century African American sound. (reservations required, limit 250 guests)
  • From Freedom to Slavery, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Millinery Shop. Hear the compelling story of Elizabeth, an African American woman forced back into slavery after living free with the Shawnee Indians on the western frontier. (reservations required, limit 30 guests per experience)
  • The Price of Freedom, 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hennage Auditorium in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. A simultaneous look at how the definition of liberty is viewed from the perspectives of two communities: one white, one black; one free, one enslaved. (reservations required, limit 250 guests)

    The generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Parsons, Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown, the Norfolk Southern Corporation and the Charles E. Culpeper Endowments in Arts and Culture of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has helped make Colonial Williamsburg’s Black History Month programs possible.

    A valid Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Pass provides access to these programs. Reservations for Black History Weekend events can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticketing location or by calling 1-800-HISTORY.

    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 tradespeople research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. 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 www.history.org.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



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