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October 11, 2006

CW's Equiano Lecture Series explores early African-American Religion

“Freedom through Faith: Understanding the Role of Praise, Prophecy and the Black Preacher in Early African-American Religion” is the focus of the latest installment of Colonial Williamsburg’s Equiano Lecture Series 7 p.m. Saturday, October 28 at the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. The program features a living history presentation, an African-American religious music performance and a panel discussion by several noted scholars.

The living history presentation introduces the audience to Gowan Pamphlet, an 18th-century African-American preacher, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg interpreter James Ingram. Complementing Pamphlet’s presentation will be a panel discussion on early African-American religion.

The panel discussion will include Christopher Brooks, professor of African-American studies and anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Brooks holds a doctorate in anthropology/ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin. His work appears in numerous publications, including the forthcoming “African American Almanac” (10th edition, 2007), of which he is an editor.

Also on the panel will be Reginald F. Davis, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Va., which is the oldest African-American Baptist Church in America. Davis holds a doctorate in humanities with a concentration in African-American studies from Florida State University. He previously has served as Dean of Students at Garret-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and on the faculties of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla., and Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla.

The final panelist will be Linda H. Rowe, historian in Colonial Williamsburg’s Department of Historical Research. Rowe holds a master’s degree in American studies from the College of William and Mary. Her research focuses on the religious history of colonial Virginia, biographical research on Gowan Pamphlet, education in the 18th century, women’s history and the county records of York County Court.

Admission is free but reservations are required and can be made at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket outlet.

The Equiano Lecture Series is funded in part by a generous grant from the AT&T Foundation.

This is the final of three programs in the Equiano Lecture Series. Previous lectures in the series have included “A Call to Arms: Stories of African-American Freedom Fighters during the American Revolution,” which was held in February, and “From Ear to Ear: The Passage of African Music Through American Slavery,” which was held in June.

The Equiano Lecture Series was named for the legendary African Olaudah Equiano who was born in what is now Nigeria. He was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in the 18th century. After careful saving and trading, he purchased his own freedom and became involved in the movement to abolish the trans-Atlantic African slave trade and later wrote in his autobiography of the importance of music in the lives of the people of Africa.

For more information or reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Internet at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121