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September 7, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg’s Fall Programs Examine Impact of African American Culture on Development of America

Colonial Williamsburg guests experience an assortment of programs this fall highlighting the significant impact of African American culture on the development of America. In the colonial capital of Virginia, where more than 50 percent of the population was of African ancestry, free and enslaved African Virginians played an instrumental role in shaping the continuous national quest to achieve the ideals of a democratic society.

In colonial Virginia the majority of enslaved Americans lived in rural areas. At Great Hopes Plantation, visitors can explore what daily life was like in “Workin’ the Soil, Healing the Soul.” Guests will experience the integral role slavery played in the Virginia economy at 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Nov. 22 and Saturdays, Sept. 10-Nov. 19. Tickets are included in all Historic Area admission passes. Free reservation required.

“Freedom Denied: Slavery in the Time of Liberty” allows guests to learn about the struggle of African Americans to gain liberty and equality during the era of the American Revolution. Using key documents from the period, this tour explains aspects of law, religion and social custom that established and maintained a system of slavery and oppression. Guests leave this program with a better understanding of the variety of means by which enslaved and free African Americans navigated and resisted this system. The walking tour begins at the Lumber House Ticket Office at 10 a.m. Wednesdays through Nov. 23 and Fridays, Sept. 9-Nov. 18. Tickets are included in all Historic Area passes. Free reservation required.

“Princes Without a Palace: African Princes and Captives in Williamsburg” connects the Atlantic slave trade with Williamsburg buildings, events and people. The program explores the diversity of class, culture and religion among the thousands of African captives in Virginia and the Atlantic World during the American Revolutionary era. The program is presented at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 15, 22, Oct. 6, 13, 20 and Nov. 17 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Tickets are included in all Historic Area or museum admission passes.

Guests also can participate in a walking tour with Edith Cumbo, a free African Virginian woman. In “Her Enduring Spirit” she offers a unique perspective on life in Williamsburg. Join her as she conducts her business and learn about the active roles that women played in Williamsburg and nearby cities. The program takes place at 11 a.m. Saturdays through Nov. 19. A free reservation is required. Tickets are included in all Historic Area passes.

“Daniel’s Dilemma” offers guests the opportunity to meet an enslaved foreman, Daniel, who struggles with his identity when his responsibilities as foreman, for which he and his family receive extra privileges on the plantation, come into conflict with his allegiance to the enslaved community. The program takes place at 11 a.m. Fridays Sept. 9-Nov. 18 (except Sept. 16) at Great Hopes Plantation. A free reservation is required. Tickets are included in all Historic Area admission passes.

In “Jane’s Struggle” a free woman of mixed heritage struggles with her racial identity and the nuances of a society where her complexion can be both beneficial and harmful. This program takes place at 11 a.m. Sundays Sept. 11-Nov. 20 at Great Hopes Plantation. A free reservation is required. Tickets are included with all Historic Area admission passes.

Guests will be able to keep the rhythms, sing the songs and dance the dances adapted from West African people during colonial America in “African American Music.” The event occurs at Great Hopes Plantation at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Thursdays Oct. 6-Nov. 24. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six-17 and $6 for children under six.

“Papa Said, Mama Said” lets visitors meet enslaved people who have learned cultural morals and values from the stories of the past as told by their elders. At the Courthouses guests explore oral African tradition. The program is Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. from Sept. 7 – Nov 23. Tickets are available without an admission pass. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six-17 and $6 for children under six.

For more information or reservations, call 1-800-HISTORY.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

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.

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. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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