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January 26, 2007

"The Road to Freedom": CW's Black History Month programs

With dynamic reenactments of some of the most pivotal moments in the history of Black culture in America, once-in-a-lifetime musical performances and special events throughout the month of February, Colonial Williamsburg offers parents and children the opportunity to experience Black History Month in new, exciting ways.

“The history of African Americans has influenced every aspect of our nation’s development and is an integral part of the story we tell here at Colonial Williamsburg,” said Rex Ellis, vice president of the Historic Area. “We seek to teach American History through multiple perspectives that help facilitate understanding among all of our guests regarding the importance of African- American culture.”

In addition to enhanced programming throughout the month of February, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation hosts a special Black History Weekend, Feb. 24-25, focusing on the “road to freedom.” The weekend features gripping scenes of runaway slaves “Dick” and “Joe,” as well as vignettes about African-Americans’ interactions with the Shawnee Indians and the impossible decisions slaves were faced regarding the Revolutionary War.

On Feb. 24, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation also treats guests to a one-of-a-kind performance by the artists and historians behind Colonial Williamsburg’s recently released CD, From Ear to Ear. The CD features recreated West African, Caribbean, and traditional African-American songs.

Also during Black History Month, guests have an opportunity to experience the State of the Black Union: African American Imprint on America program. On Feb. 9-11, Colonial Williamsburg offers a special package for guests of official Colonial Williamsburg hotels that includes admission to a panel discussion with Tavis Smiley at Hampton University, a private screening of Bristol Bay Productions’ Amazing Grace, a film based on the true story of William Wilberforce’s 20-year struggle to abolish the British slave trade, hotel accommodations, special programs and admission to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.

For children and young adults unable to take a trip to the Historic Area, Colonial Williamsburg offers The Slave Trade, a live broadcast of Colonial Williamsburg’s Emmy® award-winning monthly Electronic Field Trip series. The premiere of this broadcast explores the U.S. law of 1807 that abolished the transatlantic slave trade. Viewing is free on subscribing public-broadcast and cable stations throughout the nation.

For a full list of activities on Black History Weekend and throughout the month of February, please visit

Calendar of Special Events and Interpretations for February & March 2007

  • February 9-11: State of the Black Union 2007 Package Available. Includes accommodations and special events, plus Amazing Grace screening, at Colonial Williamsburg.
  • February 15: The Slave Trade Electronic Field Trip Live Broadcast. On participating PBS and cable stations throughout the nation and
  • February 17: Fifes and Drums March
    Performers representing militia field musicians march through Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area.

    Black History Weekend.
    February 24:

  • Special Fifes and Drums March
  • White Goes First. Witness a private conversation between Thomas Jefferson and servant Jupiter.
  • God Save the King. Talk to enslaved men, Joe and Dick, and discover their quest for freedom.
  • The Examination of Joe & Dick, Black Loyalists. Listen to the testimonies of Joe and Dick, two enslaved black loyalists.
    February 25:
  • Slavery and The Law – A Special Focus Tour. Tour the Capitol and discover how enslaved African Americans fought to obtain their freedom.
  • Freedom to Slavery. Hear the compelling story of an enslaved woman forced back into slavery after living with the Shawnee Indians.
  • Created Equal, But Treated Differently. Meet the former enslaved cook for one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as she illustrates her thoughts on freedom and equality.
  • Change is Coming! Participate in worship service and listen as a free Baptist minister delivers a sermon proclaiming the American freedom can not thrive without the end of American slavery.

  • March 16-17: Colonial Williamsburg Equiano Lecture Series. Educational seminar focusing on how scholarship is blending with living history programming. Anticipated guests include noted scholars James Walden and Eric Metaxa.

    Colonial Williamsburg’s programming for Black History month complements the Historic Area’s year-round African-American interpretive programs that recognize the struggles and successes of the 18th-century’s Black Virginians and their contributions to America. Additional seasonal programs, historic museums and resources, and interactive events, such as the interactive Revolutionary City program, make Colonial Williamsburg a perfect destination for anyone. For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit

    Media Contact:
    Barbara Brown
    (757) 220-7280

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