Sunday, August 7, 2022

Life as a free man: Yorktown honors Black History Month with story of African American shoemaker

James Cameron (Courtesy photo/York County Historical Society)
James Cameron (Courtesy photo/York County Historical Committee)

As Black History Month begins again this year, the York County Historical Committee will give visitors a look into the life of an African American man in the 18th century.

Character actor James Cameron will portray John Rollison, a free African American in 18th-century Yorktown, at 3 p.m. on Feb. 3 in York Hall, according to a release from the York County Historical Committee.

The telling of Rollison’s story marks the start of a three-part lecture series given by the historical committee this spring.

John Rollinson was born in Yorktown in 1723 and started his career as a shoemaker’s apprentice. Rollinson then went on to open his own shop and the store became a prominent business in the community.

Through his acting, Cameron “will provide a unique insight into the life and times of colonial Yorktown,” the release said.

Rollinson’s story presented by Cameron displays the leadership and persistence of Rollinson to become a prominent businessman at a time when African Americans struggled to own property of their own.

Cameron is not only an actor, but also a historian and author. He has 12 years of on-air broadcasting experience as well as education in acting and broadcasting. Cameron is the author of a 2011 book about Rollinson, “We Hold These Truths…A Conversation with John Rollinson 1723-1780.”

As a storyteller, Cameron has worked for Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. In addition, he has also been in various documentaries such as “Pursuit of Honor.”

The event is free to the public.

For more information about this event, call the York County Parks, Recreation and Tourism office at 757-890-3500.  

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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