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November 10, 2009

Public is invited to special program celebrating CW's 30 years of African American programs

The public is invited to a special program – “Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward” – that features a roundtable discussion of the development of Colonial Williamsburg’s African American programming 6-7:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 in the Hennage Auditorium of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. The program is part of a weekend of special programs devoted to African American history, Shaping Our Destiny: The African American Pursuit of Liberty.

For the past three decades, Colonial Williamsburg has been committed to portraying the lives of free and enslaved African Americans in colonial and revolutionary Virginia. In a roundtable discussion, Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward, five leading experts closely involved with the development of African American programs at the Foundation will reflect on the challenges and successes of the pioneering initiative:

  • Cary Carson, former Colonial Williamsburg vice president for research;
  • Christy Coleman, former Colonial Williamsburg director of African American interpretation and presentations, and now president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar;
  • Rex Ellis, former Colonial Williamsburg vice president of the Historic Area as well as former director of African American interpretation and presentations, and currently associate director of curatorial affairs for the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture;
  • Robert C. Watson, former director of African American interpretation and presentations and now assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and History at Hampton University; and
  • Shomer Zwelling, former research historian.

    The discussion will be moderated by James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation and Abby and George O’Neill Director of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library.

    The program is free and open to the public. A reception in the Central Court of the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum follows the program.

    Sankofa: Looking Back, Moving Forward is part of the Foundation's celebration of the 30th anniversary of African American programming at Colonial Williamsburg. 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 has helped make Colonial Williamsburg’s African American History programs possible.

    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. 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:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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