WILLIAMSBURG, Va., February 1, 2021 – Throughout the year and in honor of Black History Month in February, Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown present gallery exhibits, films and educational programs that recount the experiences of Africans and African Americans in early America, from the first known West Central Africans in Virginia in 1619 to the contributions of African Americans in the Revolutionary War.
On Saturday, February 27, “After Angelo” returns to Jamestown Settlement for a special one-day event honoring the legacy of the first African woman mentioned by name in the historical record at Jamestown, featuring a lively celebration of African-American culture and heritage with art, music, storytelling and a community conversation.
Exhibits and event activities have been adapted with limited capacity in indoor spaces and protective safety protocols to ensure visitors enjoy a safe experience.
‘After Angelo’ February 27 at Jamestown Settlement
“After Angelo” festivities on February 27 feature a traditional African Libation by Corey Staten at 12 p.m., followed by a performance from Atumpan Dance Theatre. Visitors can enjoy drumming and storytelling by Brandon Lee and Sylvia Tabb Lee at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., a “Between Two Shores” performance of Angelo by Valarie Gray Holmes at 1 p.m., and instrumental music by Odysseus at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Atumpan Dance Theatre also performs at 3 p.m. with Corey the Talented Blind Guy and LaQuita Marie.
At 2 p.m., a “Many Voices/One Story” community discussion will feature Christy S. Coleman, executive director of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and Barbara Hamm Lee, host of WHRO/WHRV’s “Another View,” a weekly call-in radio talk show that discusses today’s topics from an African-American perspective. The one-hour discussion will explore the importance of including African American, American Indian and other cultural perspectives in teaching America’s history.
Throughout the day, art by African-American artists will be on display, some of which will be available for purchase. Space also will be available for local organizations promoting and empowering the Black community to share their stories and literature or host special activities. “After Angelo” is supported in part by the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission.
West Central African Exhibits, Films & Education Programs at Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement’s permanent exhibition galleries feature one of the most varied collections of objects relating to the nation’s beginnings in 17th-century Virginia, including more than 500 objects representative of the Powhatan Indian, European and West Central African cultures. The documentary film, “1607: A Nation Takes Root,” shown every 30 minutes, traces the evolution of the Virginia Company that sponsored the Jamestown colony, examines the relationship between the English colonists and the Powhatan Indians, and chronicles the arrival of the first recorded Africans in 1619, and features scenes filmed in Angola.
The skill of West Central African craftsmen, as well as African contact with Europeans, is reflected in a pair of bronze bracelets from Benin whose decorations include stylized pictures of Portuguese soldiers, and an Owo carved ivory bracelet, an example of an object highly valued by European collectors. In a diorama representing the Ndongan culture of the first known Africans in Virginia, 30 objects from the Ambundu culture of Angola are exhibited courtesy of the Mercer Museum of the Bucks County Historical Society in Doylestown, Pa. The Ambundu were part of the Ndongo kingdom in the 16th and 17th centuries. Collected in the early 20th century by Swedish American scholar Amandus Johnson, the Ambundu artifacts are similar to the weapons, tools and personal items used by 17th-century Ndongans.
A “From Africa to Virginia” multimedia presentation, featuring chronicles African encounters with Europeans, the impact on African culture, and the development of the transatlantic slave trade. The story of Angelo is shared in the newly refreshed permanent galleries along with exhibits exploring the late 17th century and the development of a new African-American culture.
Education programs on select dates in February will allow visitors to learn about the culture, society and technology of West Central Africa, the first recorded arrival of Africans to Virginia in 1619, and stories of Africans in Virginia and their shift in status as laws changed, developing into the institution of slavery. Education programs in exhibit galleries feature reproduction African objects, images and documents, exploring aspects of African tools, weaponry, transportation, housing, clothing and ornamentation.
Education programs will take place at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout February. As part of the “After Angelo” special event on February 27, education programs will be available 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
African American Exhibits & Films at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
From the first shots fired at the Boston Massacre to the final victory at Yorktown and points in between, exhibits and films at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown explore the contributions of both well-known and little-known participants in the Revolutionary War.
Among the iconic artifacts of the Revolution on exhibit is a circa 1733 portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, one of the two earliest known portraits done from life of an African who had been enslaved in the 13 British colonies that became the United States of America. Also on display is a first edition of the Phillis Wheatley 1773 volume, “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral,” the first book to be published by an African American. Visitors can learn about diverse Americans – Patriots and Loyalists, women, and enslaved and free African Americans, including Benjamin Banneker, a free African American who became famous in the 1790s as a scientist and writer. An interactive exhibit shares accounts of Billy Flora and James Lafayette, an enslaved African American from New Kent County, Va., who successfully spied on the British for the American forces. Shown every 30 minutes in the museum theater, “Liberty Fever” features the stories of five people who lived during the American Revolution, including Billy Flora, an African-American hero of the Battle of Great Bridge in 1775.
About the Museums
Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, are separated by a 25-minute drive along the Colonial Parkway, a National Scenic Byway. Through February, outdoor interpretive areas are accessible from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 just southwest of Williamsburg. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Gift shops at both museums are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is free.
In 2021, a value-priced combination ticket to both museums is $28.90 for adults and $14.45 for ages 6-12. Jamestown Settlement admission is $18.00 for adults and $9.00 for ages 6-12 and, to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $16.00 for adults and $8.00 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are admitted free. Residents of James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students, receive free admission with proof of residency.
For more information, call (757) 253-4838 or visit jyfmuseums.org/africanamericanheritage.