From leaving Africa to slaves who kept their literacy a secret from their masters, both the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and Colonial Williamsburg are presenting programs throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.
Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center will focus on "From Africa to Virginia." Gallery exhibits and daily interpretive programs will highlight the west central African culture of the first known Africans to arrive in Virginia.
The programming will follow the story of Africans in Virginia, though 17-century Virginia and into the American Revolutionary era.
Colonial Williamsburg's Black History Month programming includes six interpretive programs in the Historic Area, seven programs at the Hennage Auditorium and one at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.
"Freedom's Paradox" explores the views of the slaves of Peyton Randolph one of the leading advocates in Virginia for independence on what that fight might mean for them. It will be offered daily in February at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the Peyton Randolph House.
"The Examination of Joe & Dick, Black Loyalists" examines the trial of two slaves who ran way to join the British Army. It will be offered at 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Saturday at the Courthouse of 1770.
"Daniel's Dilemma," explores the life of an enslaved foreman who receives extra privileges on the plantation for himself and his family. He has a dilemma when his responsibilities conflict with his allegiance to the enslaved community. Offered 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., Feb. 21 and 28 at the Mary Stith House.
Other programs in the Historic Area explore the life of a slave who had the chance to choose his own master, the importance of hair in the enslaved black society and a slave owner whose Christianity lead him to eventually opposed slavery.
Programs at the Hennage Auditorium include "Secret Keeps: Literacy Slavery and the Law," examining how secretly literate slaves used their literacy to chain their positions, practice their religion, communicate with family, plan escapes and petition the government. It will be presented at 11:30 a.m., Feb. 19 and 26.
"My Daughter, My Mistress; My Mother, My Slave" explores the relationship between Betty Hemmings and Martha Jefferson, the young woman she raised who eventually becomes her mistress at Monticello. Presented at the Hennage Auditorium at 2 p.m. on Feb. 26.
Other Hennage programs include explorations of the affect of enslavement on bonds of family, African royalty impressed into slavery in America and the role of faith in the lives of both masters and slaves.
The work of African American artists and artisans will be featured in a program at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, offered at 10:30 am., on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout February.
Want to go? – A full listing of Colonial Williamsburg's Black History programming can be found at the foundation's website, http://www.history.org.