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‘From Africa to Virginia’ Theme Shapes February Programming at Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center

‘African-American Musical Imprint Weekend’ February 14-15 at Jamestown Settlement

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., January 12, 2015 – February is “From Africa to Virginia” month at Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center history museums. Gallery exhibits and daily interpretive programs highlight the culture of the first recorded Africans in Virginia and the experience of people of African descent in colonial and Revolutionary America. “African-American Musical Imprint Weekend” at Jamestown Settlement on February 14 and 15 will feature performances by “The Storyteller” Dylan Pritchett, the Northern Neck Chantey Singers and Legacy of Weyanoke.

Jamestown Settlement Galleries

The “From Africa to Virginia” theme is reflected in a printed family guide of Jamestown Settlement’s expansive gallery exhibits, which chronicle the nation’s 17th-century beginnings in Virginia in the context of its Powhatan Indian, English and African cultures. The parent culture of Africans brought to Virginia in 1619 is portrayed in a diorama that includes a full-scale dwelling and artifacts from the Ambundu culture of Angola. A dramatic multimedia presentation describes African encounters with Europeans, the impact on African culture, and the development of the transatlantic slave trade.

Other exhibits tell about Virginia’s tobacco-cultivation economy and its relationship to the evolution of slavery in the colony. A structure re-created from an archaeological site depicts a late-17th-century slave quarter alongside a planter’s house and Indian cabin, also based on Virginia archaeological sites. Decorative objects of ivory and metal made by west-central-African craftspeople, and archaeologically found objects made or used by enslaved people in Virginia can be seen in the gallery exhibits.

Jamestown Settlement gallery African exhibit themes are reflected in two special tours available to groups with advance reservations. “African Red Gold,” a premium-theme private tour for parties of 14 or less, highlights the museum’s African collection and features a behind-the-scenes visit with a curator to see objects of copper, known as “red gold,” not currently on display. “From Africa to Virginia,” a one-hour gallery tour for groups of 15 or more, focuses on the story of the 1619 arrival of the first recorded Africans in Virginia.

Daily Interpretive Programs

At Jamestown Settlement, “Life on the Waterways” at 10:30 a.m. daily in the re-created Powhatan Indian village invites visitors to help fashion a dugout canoe and compare and contrast Powhatan and Angolan cultures while learning about canoes and fishing. “African Arrival,” a role-play experience at 1 p.m. daily at the replica 1607 English ships, illuminates the circumstances of the 1619 arrival in Virginia of 20-some Africans who had been captured by English privateers from a Portuguese ship en route from Angola to Mexico. “Weapons and Warfare” at 2:30 p.m. at the re-created fort compares African and English warfare techniques and culminates with the firing of matchlock musket.

At the Yorktown Victory Center’s re-created Continental Army encampment, at noon daily, historical interpreters will discuss the roles of African Americans in the Revolutionary War and the 1775 proclamation by Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s royal governor, promising freedom to people enslaved by rebellious colonists, if they came to the British side. Representations of a coat worn by formerly enslaved people who joined the British 33rd Regiment of Foot and a hat from the American army’s 1st Rhode Island Regiment, which for a time during the Revolution included several companies of African-American soldiers, will be displayed. At 2 p.m. daily, the re-created Revolution-era farm will offer a glimpse of the lives and roles of enslaved people on a small farm and African influence on American foodways.

African-American Musical Imprint Weekend

Storytelling and musical performances will take place Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15, inside Jamestown Settlement’s Robert V. Hatcher, Jr., Rotunda.

“The Storyteller” Dylan Pritchett will present tales of Africa and African-American heritage at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. both days.

The Northern Neck Chantey Singers will perform, at noon and 2 p.m. both days, examples of work songs that coordinated the efforts of African-American watermen of eastern Virginia as they hauled in nets filled with their catch.

At 3 p.m. on both days, the a cappella vocal ensemble Legacy of Weyanoke will take the audience on a musical journey that pays tribute to African ancestors and their history.

Visiting the Museums

Combined admission to Jamestown Settlement, located at Route 31 and the Colonial Parkway near Williamsburg, and the Yorktown Victory Center, located at Route 1020 and the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown, is $21.00 for adults, $10.50 for ages 6 through 12. Individual Jamestown Settlement admission is $16.75 for adults, $7.75 for ages 6-12. Yorktown Victory Center admission is $9.75 for adults, $5.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free, and parking is free at both museums.

The “From Africa to Virginia” guided tour of the Jamestown Settlement galleries for groups of 15 or more with advance reservations is $16.40 for adults, $6.25 for students K-college, and includes admission to the entire museum. The “African Red Gold” premium-theme private tour at Jamestown Settlement for parties of 14 or less is $145 per party plus individual museum admission. Reservations for either tour can be made at (888) 868-7593 toll-free or (757) 253-4939.

Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.