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February 19, 2013

Talented African American Women Explore Empowerment in March

Colonial Williamsburg celebrates the power of women and African American culture in March, beginning with a “Connect” webcast at noon, Friday, March 1 at “American Ideas: Steadfast Spirits” examines how the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution affect African American women through Revolution, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights era.

Hosted by WHRO Public Media broadcaster Barbara Hamm Lee, the webcast will be simulcast on public radio station WHRV FM 89.5 during Hamm Lee’s regular Friday program “Another View.” Guests for the webcast will be Colonial Williamsburg interpreter Katrinah Lewis, who portrays Lydia Broadnax, a formerly enslaved woman who now has her freedom. Colonial Williamsburg historians Harvey Bakari and Tricia Brooks provide context and insight for a discussion of the advancing rights of African American women throughout history and the progress yet to be made. Viewers and listeners can join the conversation on the Connect chat room, on Twitter at, by email at or by calling in live to WHRV at 757-440-2665 or 800-940-2240.

The American Ideas programs are part of a series of Colonial Williamsburg live webcasts debating our nation’s most basic values and how they shape our republic and are one of many programs that support Colonial Williamsburg’s initiatives as a center for history and citizenship.

Saturday, March 9, Steadfast Spirits presents “Liberty for Lydia” at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., with Erica Hubbard, star of BET’s “Let’s Stay Together,” in the role of Lydia, an enslaved woman in the household of 18th-century lawyer and scholar George Wythe, a Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence. Following the Revolution, changes in Virginia law made it possible for Wythe to free Lydia and she ultimately became an entrepreneur in nearby Richmond. The story of Lydia is the story of a woman facing, enduring and overcoming the shifting challenges of gender, slavery and freedom in the age of the American Revolution.

A question-and-answer session with Hubbard and the rest of the cast, moderated by WHRO’s Barbara Hamm Lee, follows each performance and features questions submitted via social media channels. A separate $30 ticket is required. Tickets available online or by calling 1-800-447-8679. Hubbard discusses her passion for the role during rehearsal on YouTube.

Colonial Williamsburg and the Virginia Arts Festival present an evening concert by Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy-award-winning and internationally renowned, African American female a cappella group. Sweet Honey in the Rock performs music imbued with the history of the African American struggle for liberty and grounded in the tradition of sacred spirituals and gospel hymns from the African American church, protest songs of the civil rights movement and refrains of peace and justice that resound around the world. Sweet Honey in the Rock performs their vocal magic at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9 in the Virginia Room of the Williamsburg Lodge. A separate $40 ticket is required through Ticketmaster. Discounts for seniors, military and AAA available.

The “Steadfast Spirits” weekend also features programs that investigate the actions of courageous women of African descent who made choices and took risks in the Revolutionary era to change their own destinies. A complete list of programs appears on Colonial Williamsburg’s website

The Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel & Suites offers a “Steadfast Spirits” weekend package that includes two night’s lodging and two sets of all required tickets starting at just $110 per room per night. Room taxes are additional. To include the free tickets, the package must be booked no later than Feb. 28. For more information, visit or telephone toll-free 1-800-HISTORY (1-800-447-8679).

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown