Saturday, February 24, 2024

Stories of Revolutionary African-American soldiers come to life at Yorktown museum

“Forgotten Soldier” will open June 29 at the museum, 200 Water Street in Yorktown, discussing the experiences of African-American soldiers and their roles during the American Revolution. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)
“Forgotten Soldier” will open June 29 at the museum, 200 Water Street in Yorktown, discussing the experiences of African-American soldiers and their roles during the American Revolution. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation)

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is bringing the stories of African-American soldiers to the forefront through a new interactive exhibition.

“Forgotten Soldier” will open June 29 at the museum, 200 Water St. in Yorktown, discussing the experiences of black soldiers and their roles during the American Revolution.

The special exhibition will be open through March 22, 2020. Exhibits include contemporary artwork by Titus Kaphar, as well as rare documents and artifacts, according to an informational page on the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown website.

The stories of the soldiers will also detail the risks and challenges African-Americans faced during the war.

One soldier featured in the exhibition may ring a bell from grade school history books: Crispus Attucks, a formerly enslaved sailor of African and American Indian descent who was the war’s first casualty at the Boston Massacre.

Other people covered by the exhibition include Bristol Rhodes, an enslaved man who gained freedom by joining the Rhode Island Regiment, and Thomas Carney, a free man from Maryland who fought with the 5th Maryland Regiment.

Special documents on loan

  • Dunmore’s Proclamation of 1775
  • Treaty of Paris, Article 7, New York, 1783
  • The American “Inspection Roll of Negroes No. 1” and the British “Book of Negroes”
  • “Lieutenant Thomas Grosvenor and His Negro Servant” portrait by John Trumbull, circa 1797

Hands-on experiences

  • Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: An interactive wheel shows choices many African-American people faced during the American Revolution. Visitors can spin the wheel and find out what happened to the real people who made certain choices.
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: A search-and-find activity where visitors learn about James Lafayette, an enslaved man who was a Patriot spy.
  • Of The Greatest Service: Joining Patriot Ranks: A shadow box activity revealing some touchable objects African Americans would have received while serving in the war.
  • Who Am I? And What Became of Me?: An activity telling the stories of six people involved in the Revolutionary War, and what became of them.
  • Remember a Soldier!: An activity where visitors can write uplifting postcard messages to today’s enlisted soldiers.
Sarah Fearing
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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