Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Colonial Williamsburg Plans Slate of Programming to Commemorate Black History Month

(Photo provided by Colonial Williamsburg)

WILLIAMSBURG — This February, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation will commemorate Black History Month with programming that celebrates and explores the lives of the enslaved and free Black residents of Williamsburg who comprised over 50% of the city’s population in the 18th century.

According to Colonial Williamsburg, highlights will include Saturday performances of family-friendly “Loquacious Lucy: Queen for a Day,” guided tours of the “I made this…” exhibition at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg on Tuesdays, and the move of the Williamsburg Bray School to its permanent location in the Historic Area on Feb. 10.

“Loquacious Lucy, Queen for a Day” is a 30-minute, family-friendly play about a parent who instills in their young, enslaved daughter the pride of her African ancestors while also guiding her through the realities of slavery.

“While the story of Black People in Virginia is largely about their enslavement, the history of Black People is rich and full of powerful and free people, like Queen Nzinga of Ndongo (modern-day Angola) who ruled in the 17th Century,” said Katrinah Lewis, artistic director of Colonial Williamsburg’s museum theater department. “This play is a celebration and an examination of the experience of Black Americans that’s at turns fun and celebratory, and honest and heartbreaking.”

“Loquacious Lucy” will be performed on Saturdays, Feb. 4, 11, and 25 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. at the Hennage Auditorium located in the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Art Museums admission is required.

The “I made this…”: The Work of Black American Artists and Artisans exhibition features work made exclusively by Black artists from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The exhibition opened in October 2022 and includes nearly 30 examples of paintings, furniture, textiles, decorative sculptures, quilts, ceramics, tools, metals, and more, including new acquisitions, and focuses on the makers and their stories.

“Telling the stories of these Black makers is important because it gives them the opportunity to have a voice,” said Ayinde Martin, journeyman carpenter and a member of the advisory committee for the exhibition. “There’s a personal experience for everyone to be found in this exhibition, and I think learning about the individuals who made the artifacts and the artifacts themselves will connect people.”

Special guided tours of the exhibition will be offered throughout the month on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Free reservations are required and can be booked by visiting a ticket office or calling 888-965-7254. Art Museums admission is required.

The Williamsburg Bray School is likely the oldest extant building in the United States dedicated to the education of Black children, Colonial Williamsburg noted in a press release. On Friday, Feb. 10 beginning at 8:30 a.m., the building will move from its current location on the campus of William & Mary to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, where it will become a key component of the Foundation’s public history programming.

“Telling this history of the Bray School is important because it shows a level of commitment to revealing truth to the community,” said Adam Canaday, a descendant of one of the Bray School students and Colonial Williamsburg employee. “It’s also an acknowledgment of those children whose genius was never fully appreciated because their education was considered primarily a benefit to their enslavers. Those young minds were doctors, engineers, inventors and not just someone’s property for profit.”

Following the move, a public commemoration program will be held at the corner of Nassau and Francis streets at 2 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

For more information about offerings during Black History month at Colonial Williamsburg, visit the official Colonial Williamsburg website.

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