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August 4, 2009

Records reveal the struggles of African Americans to gain liberty and equality in colonial and Revolutionary times

Join in an engaging walk through Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area on the In Their Own Words: African Americans in the Revolutionary Era special focus tour. Learn about the struggle of free and enslaved African Americans to gain liberty and equality before and during the American Revolution. Guests will see Williamsburg through the eyes of several 18th-century persons, including the Ashbys, a free black family, and discover the role that the law, education and community played in their daily lives.

“In Their Own Words” is offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Aug. 31 through Nov. 26, weather permitting. The tour begins at the Greenhow Ticket Office.

During this interactive walking tour, differing perspectives on African Americans in the colonial era are highlighted through examining a variety of 18th-century documents. A letter written in secret by a slave in 1723 to the bishop of London provides insight into the challenges and inequalities African Americans confronted in everyday life. A letter from Lt. Gov. William Gooch, who served from 1727 to 1749, illustrates the hostility and suspicion of government officials toward the free African American community. Through these and other documents authored by 18th-century Virginians of both races, hear in their own words how they viewed African Americans, enslaved and free. Learn how African Americans challenged the laws, religious institutions and social customs that denied them equality in British North America and during the Revolution.

This tour is part of the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Colonial Williamsburg’s African American programs throughout 2009.

Reservations may be placed by calling 1-800-HISTORY. All Colonial Williamsburg admissions tickets or a Good Neighbor Card is required to enjoy this program.

Colonial Williamsburg’s African American History programs are made possible by 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, AT&T, Philip Morris and IBM.

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 trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

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

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121