Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Jamestown Settlement to Present ‘A Prelude to Juneteenth’

Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander (Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)
WILLIAMSBURG — Jamestown Settlement will present “A Prelude to Juneteenth” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, launching a series of community events in partnership with the Juneteenth Community Consortium. 

The thought-provoking evening of history and performance will explore the precarious nature of freedom from 17th-century Jamestown to Juneteenth. 
While Juneteenth springs from events that happened in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, the event celebrates liberation from a system of slavery with origins in Jamestown — the place where the first recorded Africans in 1619 were brought after landing at Old Point Comfort and where the first slave laws enacted in the mid-17th century impacted the lives and status of Africans and their descendants. 
As a prelude to Juneteenth, Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Endowed Professor of Virginia Black History and Culture at Norfolk State University, will take up that legacy 246 years later at the end of the American Civil War, sharing the story of Black regiments attached to Virginia’s Army of the James.
Some of those regiments were sent to Texas after the war to patrol the Gulf region, including Galveston. Among their duties was keeping the peace after news of the Emancipation Proclamation was delivered to Galveston’s enslaved inhabitants. 
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Executive Director Christy S. Coleman will introduce the 90-minute program, which will feature interludes of song by Sylvia Tabb Lee & the Rejoicing Singers and dramatic readings from primary sources performed by Dale Heiskil. 
Admission is free to both “A Prelude to Juneteenth,”  7-8:30 p.m. June 14, and to Jamestown Settlement on June 19, the official Juneteenth holiday. Registration is encouraged for the June 14 evening program and is available at jyfmuseums.org/Juneteenth. 
Guests to “A Prelude to Juneteenth” are also encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item to donate to the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank as part of a community food drive in conjunction with Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Civic Season events, a national initiative running from Juneteenth to July 4. Both Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will have donation boxes available in the museum lobbies. 
Learn more about the Juneteenth Community Consortium, an association of organizations in the Greater Williamsburg Area with a common goal to educate, commemorate and celebrate the end of slavery in America, through a series of Juneteenth events at juneteenthcc.org/events.

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