5 Common Misconceptions about Slavery in Colonial Virginia

An enslaved person in shackles.

Slavery is a sensitive topic that can be difficult to talk about. But that awful chapter in our history is part of who we are as Americans. We need to reckon with that history honestly. That’s why I asked Harvey Bakari, Manager of African American Initiatives, what he considered some of the most common misconceptions he has encountered. Here are his top five….

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We the People: A Response to Our Super Bowl Ad

We The People

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Colonial Williamsburg released an extended online version of its advertisement through its various social media channels. The ad garnered thousands of likes and shares alongside hundreds of positive comments within the hour. Youtube reviews alone ran 10-1 in favor of the ad. Its popularity, and the discussion of the events depicted in the ad, led to the conversation “trending” on Facebook.

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Turning Hate into Hope in Colonial Williamsburg

Master Hand Engraver C. Lynn Zelesnikar at work in the engraving shop working on a plaque made from the melted-down brass doorstops from the Inn. This plaque is to be presented to the First Baptist Church.

The Williamsburg Inn, the famed luxury hotel in Colonial Williamsburg that regularly plays host to celebrities and royalty (including Queen Elizabeth II, twice), recently discovered that many of its elegant doors were being propped open by brass “doormen” that depict crude racial stereotypes of African Americans. But rather than simply throwing the heavy doorstops on the scrap heap of history, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, which owns and operates the hotel along with three others, decided to turn the doorstops into something “teachable and affirmative” by melting them down and recasting the brass into a plaque bearing the words from an iconic speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. …

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Albert Durant: A Lens Focused Upon African American History

Durant Collection. Box 8; folder 13. Douglas Lee and another student sit on the hood of a car during a Bruton Heights School homecoming parade.

Renowned photographer Ansel Adams once said, “Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” African American photographer Albert Durant accomplished both, melding talent and style with a desire to document the world around him. What resulted was an unusually vivid lens into everyday black life and culture in the mid-twentieth century—one that visitors to the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library can experience themselves, throughout the month of February….

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Musings from the Millinery: Revealing the Truth About 18th-century Women’s Necklines

SUSANNA STUART FITZHUGH KNOX by John Hesselius 1770s Virginian Woman Sothebys Auction lot 718

Susanna Stuart Fitzhugh Knox by John Hesselius, c.1770, Sothebys Auction lot 718 (She’s Virginian!)

It was around this time last week that an image in one of our blogs sparked a debate over the representation of a woman’s body. As an apprentice Milliner & Mantua-maker, the Making History team immediately reached out to me for historical perspective. I hope this explanation helps clarify why the image was indeed period correct in its representation. I’d also like to use this opportunity to initiate a discussion of the female body and how it was viewed in the 18th century versus today.  …

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