January 21, 2005
Black History Month takes center stage during CW's special commemoration weekend Feb. 25027
Colonial Williamsburg presents its third annual Black History Weekend, “Our Common Myths,” Feb. 25-27. This year’s weekend events will highlight misconceptions widely held about 18th-century African-American history. From Historic Area tours to participatory programs, guests will have the opportunity to learn and challenge misconceptions about early African-American history, and how that history relates to life in the 21st century. Black History Weekend programs are as follows:
Friday, Feb. 25“The Other Half Tour,” 2 p.m., Historic Area. On this guided tour, guests walk about town and hear the stories of the majority of Williamsburg’s 18th-century population: free blacks and enslaved Africans and African-Virginians. Reservations required.
“Public History, Public Trust: Our Common Myths of Colonial Slavery,” 3:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. For more than 25 years Colonial Williamsburg’s African-American interpretation has challenged some of the most popular myths and assumptions about slavery that continue to linger in popular culture today. Guests are invited to come and discover what is true and what is myth. Reservations required.
Saturday, Feb. 26
“Enslaving Virginia,” 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Peyton Randolph House. How did free and enslaved people live and work together in an urban gentry household? Tour the property and meet the free and enslaved members of the Randolph household. Discover the enslaved women’s public and private relationships with their owner and the work required to operate this important social and political gentry household, which includes a large kitchen and outbuildings.
“Conspiring Servants” 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. Program begins at the Historic Area’s Greenhow Ticket Office. Were enslaved people passive and apathetic about the crisis of their time? Meet domestic manservants who served some of Virginia’s most influential 18th-century leaders. Their ability to network information kept other slaves informed of social and political crisis, including rumors of rebellion and revolution. Reservations required.
“The Other Half Tour,” 10:30 a.m., Historic Area. See Friday’s program description. Reservations required.
“God is My Rock,” 11 a.m. near the Brickyard. Gowan Pamphlet, a slave known locally as a popular preacher, offers his perspective on slavery, religion and freedom. Weather permitting.
“A Conversation with Gowan Pamphlet,” 3 p.m., Taliaferro-Cole Stable on Nassau St. Meet the historical Baptist preacher Gowan Pamphlet, the founder of the first Black Baptist Church in Williamsburg, as he shares his life experiences of providing spiritual leadership to the enslaved community. Weather permitting.
“Closed Doors, Open Doors: Changing Misperceptions in African-American History,” 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Can teaching early African-American history in our nation’s museums and schools help dismantle myths about race and slavery? Learn how the history of Africans in colonial Virginia has evolved. Discover ways Colonial Williamsburg interprets free and enslaved Africans in the Historic Area and across the nation using the latest technology. Reservations required.
“More than Music: Interactive Insights in Early African-American Culture,” 2 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. When slaves gathered to sing and dance, were they “happy” slaves? This participatory program provides greater insight into how Colonial Williamsburg interprets early African-American music in the evening program, “Remember Me When Freedom Comes.” Come and join adult and junior performers for this interactive program. Reservations required.
“Revolutionary Promise: Our Struggle to be both Free and Equal,” 3:30 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. After the American victory in the War for Independence, many questions were presented as to how the practice of slavery could continue to exist based on the principles of liberty and freedom in the new republic. Listen and discuss this topic with historical figures including Patrick Henry, Gen. Marquis de Lafayette and black soldier Prince Vaughn. Reservations required.
“Remember Me, When Freedom Comes,” 7 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. Through a Saturday night gathering of music, song and dance the slave community brings to life the memories of an enslaved African named Paris who longs for freedom as he recounts his experiences from Africa to America. Separate evening program ticket is required.
Sunday, Feb. 27“Neither Seen nor Heard.” 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Peyton Randolph House. What was daily life like for the enslaved people who lived and worked on the property of Peyton Randolph, one of colonial history’s most powerful political figures? Did working in such a gentry household provide opportunities for the enslaved to overhear important social and political conversations that could
also impact their lives and their aspirations for freedom? Tour this impressive urban property, which includes a large kitchen and outbuildings.
“Conspiring Servants,” 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. Program begins at the Greenhow Ticket Office in the Historic Area. See Saturday’s program description. Reservations required.
“The Other Half Tour,” 10:30 a.m. Tour begins at Greenhow Ticket Office in the Historic Area. See Saturday’s program description. Reservations required.
“Closed Doors, Open Doors: Changing Misperceptions in African-American History,” 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. See Saturday’s program description. Reservations required.
“Telling Our Stories: Interactive Insights into Early African-American Culture,” 2 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s Hennage Auditorium. The African-American storytelling tradition was an important means of educating and communicating in the 18th century. It also served as a way to record the history of enslaved people. Listen and then participate in learning some of the skills and techniques of storytelling used in Colonial Williamsburg’s programs. Reservations required.
A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required for all programs. A separate evening program ticket is required for the 7 p.m. program on Saturday evening.
Lorraine C. Brooks