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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Colonial Williamsburg, VA250 to Host Second Planning Event for America’s 250th

Carly Fiorina took part in a Greater Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce Commonwealth Conversation with Colonial Williamsburg Foundation President Cliff Fleet. (Christopher Six/WYDaily)

WILLIAMSBURG — With only two years remaining until America’s 250th anniversary in 2026, participants from 37 states and Washington D.C. will gather at Colonial Williamsburg to discuss planning efforts for the semiquincentennial.

The event, “A Common Cause to All,” is an annual conference first hosted by the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250) and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2023. The gathering provides state and local representatives, including those from 46 Virginia localities, with vital opportunities to discuss local planning efforts, explore new ideas and learn from other attendees and speakers.

“Virginia’s history is America’s story,” said Carly Fiorina, board chair of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and VA250 national honorary chair.  “It is entirely fitting that planning commissions from across the nation, as well as educators, historical institutions and political and civic leaders would gather here in Williamsburg for the second year in a row.”

“Once again, we come together in common cause to continue building collaborative programming and events to commemorate our nation’s semiquincentennial,” she continued. “We are committed to educating our fellow Americans about the entirety of the complex but nevertheless inspiring story of our nation’s founding, engaging with every community and ultimately inspiring our fellow citizens to continue the work to form a more perfect union.”

This year’s conference aims to expand on last year’s, with session topics including strategies for reaching educators and students, engaging diverse and under-served communities, fundraising best practices, and presenting U.S. history in polarized times, according to a joint statement from the organizations.

“The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is honored to host these important discussions about America’s 250th anniversary,” said Cliff Fleet, Foundation president and CEO. “As 2026 draws closer, we will be working with colleagues throughout the country to honor the courageous stories of America’s founding generation — its best-known and lesser-known members, both — and engage more people than ever in the civic life of our nation.”

This year’s event features several prominent participants and speakers, including:

  • Danielle Allen, Harvard University
  • Sarah Botstein, award-winning producer and filmmaker
  • Carly Fiorina, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation board chair and VA250 national honorary chair
  • Kevin Gover, Smithsonian Institution
  • Woody Holton, University of South Carolina
  • The Hon. Tim Kaine, United States Senate
  • Jane Kamensky, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Monticello
  • Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS
  • Barbara Oberg, Princeton University
  • Rosie Rios, America250 chair
  • Jeffrey Rosen, National Constitution Center
  • Harry Smith, NBC news correspondent
  • The Hon. John Charles Thomas, retired Virginia Supreme Court justice
  • The Hon. Glenn Youngkin, governor of Virginia

“The VA250 Commission is excited to gather such a distinguished group of civic leaders and scholars for this event,” said Virginia Del. Terry L. Austin, chair of the VA250 Commission. “As we look to 2026, we look forward to building an inclusive commemoration and invite constructive discussion from everyone.”

“Today we are asking all Virginians, and indeed all Americans, to share with us how they envision a truly meaningful commemoration,” added Virginia Sen. Mamie Locke, vice chair of the VA250 Commission. “Together we can reclaim our shared past, share the legacies we want to build for the future, and recommit to the never-ending work begun by our forebears to build a more perfect union.”

According to the statement, the three-day gathering will conclude with a live public history program performed by Colonial Williamsburg historic interpreters that explores events that occurred in May 1774 when Virginians learned that the British Parliament had closed the port of Boston. In response, the House of Burgesses in Williamsburg called for a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer — but Lord Dunmore, the royal governor, had a different opinion.

The special presentation will be held on March 20 at 2:30 p.m., is free andopen to the public and begins at the Capitol Circle and moves toward the Raleigh Tavern, in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic District.

Additional information, including a full schedule of events, can be found here.

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