Interpreting Slave Life

Slavery: Let's talk about it

Interpretive Programs this weekend!

Posted By on July 6, 2012

Image courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg (www.colonialwiiliamsburg.com)

Hey everybody!! I hope that folks enjoyed their mid-week holiday, I know I did. I saw a few headlines that raised eyebrows and caused a squawk about who really gets to enjoy the holiday. Chris Rock tweeted a comment that created some backlash, but really, while the fight for independence was in full swing, there were enslaved men and women who would gain nothing from it. In the years after 1776 as the states celebrated their independence, there were slaves who knew nothing about independence or freedom. ┬áSo before we get on the defensive of how no one should say anything negative about the 4th of July, you may want to read Frederick Douglass’ speech on what the Fourth means to the slave. Check that here

So..this weekend there are a few interesting programs going on that I wish I could be at. The first one is the very much talked about interpretive program at Hampton National Historic Site. “Walk a Mile, Walk a Minute in the Footsteps of the Enslaved at Hampton Plantation” is this Sunday, July 8th at 1pm. This is a chance for visitors to participate in hands on activities that enslaved men and women did and is sure to be an informative, massively educational program that I encourage any and everybody in the area to attend. There’s been a lot of discussion, some good, some testy about the relevance of a program like this, and all I can say is if you roll to a historic site and have no problems with demonstrations that are done by white living history interpreters, then you need to see the other side of the coin and see how black living history interpreters discuss history. This site is covering a COLLECTIVE history and I am happy they are doing it. So get off your bum and head on out. Get the deets here

The other event going on this weekend is at Colonial Williamsburg. Sidebar here, I love Williamsburg. They are a major part of my thesis in how they paved the way for African American interpretation. When it comes to setting the standard, Williamsburg is it. Controversy? In 1994, they gave controversy a new name…google “Colonial Williamsburg slave auction 1994″ and see what I mean. The thing about Colonial Williamsburg is that they put the uncomfortable in the forefront. And I know there are some people who say even today there aren’t enough African Americans visible at Williamsburg…but you need people who are willing in order to be massively visible. They have made it a massive part of their interpretation to talk about what slavery was like in this colonial capital thus giving you a COLLECTIVE picture of what life was like. (I am a fan of whole narratives, collective histories, things of that nature). One day I’m going to work there…that is my goal, my dream dagnabit!! But this weekend they are doing a great event “More than Slaves”. This programming event is not just one thing, it’s a variety of programs that discusses African Americans actively seeking to change their situation during this time of Revolution. There will be demonstrations, presentations and best of all, our friend Michael Twitty will be there with The Southern Discomfort Tour presenting “special programs that reveal the historic connections to African roots maintained by the enslaved African Virginians through food and the lasting influence of this culinary tradition on the development of American Cuisine. Programs include: “Souls around the Hearth,” “The Golden Age of Africa in Virginia,” “Foodways to Freedom,” and “The Power of Plants.” It’s going to be an absolutely amazing weekend to learn more about enslaved men and women and the lives they led. Seriously, if you are in the area and you DON’T check it out…I may feel some sort of way about you. To get the information on what’s going on at Colonial Williamsburg, you know to click here.


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