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August 5, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne Present Special African American Interpretive Programs

On Aug. 13 and 14, Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestowne programs explore the African American perspective in "In Pursuit of Equality." The two-day event exposes the strength and courage of African Americans of the past and addresses the complicated history of race and class in American history. As challengers of what constituted a democratic society, African Americans were often excluded from rights and liberties due to racial divisions in society. These new programs address personal identity, society’s perceptions of race, and the continuance of a thriving culture from Africa to the colonies. Programs will be presented at Historic Jamestowne and Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and Art Museums.
Historic Jamestowne

“Faces of Rebellion” allows guests to experience the difficult choice enslaved men faced when promised freedom at the price of rebellion. The program is presented at the Memorial Church on the island at 2 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.

“It Takes a Village” gives guests the opportunity to hear tales of heroes and tricksters, and learn how they impact West African life. The program is presented at the Memorial Church at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.

Natalie S. Robertson of Hampton University discusses the arrival of the first Africans at Jamestown in August 1619 during “The Arrival of Africans: The Legal and Illegal Slave Trade in the U.S.” She contrasts the experiences of the last Africans to be smuggled into the United States. Her latest work, “The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Making of AfricaTown, U.S.A.: Spirit of Our Ancestors,” documents the plight of more than 100 Africans smuggled into Alabama in 1860 and their community’s traditions and activities into the 20th century. Robertson is an award-winning scholar who has held several teaching and research appointments at prestigious institutions in the United States and in Britain. The program will take place at 2 p.m. at the Historic Jamestowne Visitor Center on Sunday, Aug. 14.

These programs are free with paid admission to Historic Jamestowne. The admission fee of $10 per adult includes both Historic Jamestowne and Yorktown Battlefield. Children under age 16 are admitted free. America the Beautiful National Parks passes are accepted and Preservation Virginia members also are admitted free. For further information, call (757) 229-4997 or (757) 898-2410.
Colonial Williamsburg

In “The Curse of Ham: The Bible and Slavery” guests can learn how Noah’s biblical curse of Ham was used to justify the slave trade and human bondage from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The program takes place at Colonial Williamsburg’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, 326 W. Francis St., from 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. Admission is included in all Historic Area or museum admission passes.

“African American Music” takes guests through the grounds of the Colonial Williamsburg’s Great Hopes Plantation to explore the diverse nature of African American musical culture in colonial Virginia. Saturday, Aug. 13 at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children under six.

In “Freedom to Slavery” guests hear the compelling story of Elizabeth, an enslaved African American woman forced back into slavery after living free with the Shawnee Indians on the western frontier. The program takes place at the Milliner Shop at 2, 2:30, 3 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14. Admission is included with any Historic Area Admission pass. (Make free reservations at any ticket sales location.)

In “Jane’s Struggle” a woman of mixed heritage struggles with her racial identity and the nuances of a society where her complexion can be both beneficial and harmful. Sunday, Aug. 14 at Mary Stith House at 3, 3:30, 4 and 4:30 p.m. Admission included with any Historic Area pass. (Make free reservations at any ticket sales location.)

Colonial Williamsburg’s African American programming is made possible through the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Parsons, Douglas N. Morton and Marilyn L. Brown, the Norfolk Southern Corporation, the Charles E. Culpeper Endowments in Arts and Culture of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Altria Client Services, AT&T, Philip Morris, IBM and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"In Pursuit of Equality" is presented jointly by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Historic Jamestowne.

Historic Jamestowne is jointly administered by the National Park Service and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (on behalf of Preservation Virginia) and preserves the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

Visitors to Historic Jamestowne share the moment of discovery with archaeologists and witness archaeology in action at the 1607 James Fort excavation April-October; learn about the Jamestown Rediscovery excavation at the Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, the site's archaeology museum; tour the original 17th-century church tower and reconstructed 17th-century Jamestown Memorial Church; and take a walking tour with a Park Ranger through the New Towne area along the scenic James River. For further information, visit or call (757) 229-0412 or (757) 898-2410.

Preservation Virginia, a private non-profit organization and statewide historic preservation leader founded in 1889, is dedicated to perpetuating and revitalizing Virginia's cultural, architectural and historic heritage thereby ensuring that historic places are integral parts of the lives of present and future generations. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia.

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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121