Legacy of Weyanoke, courtesy of Weyanoke

Williamsburg Celebrates Black History Month

“Let Freedom Ring Challenge” Inspires a New Generation and Marks the Return of First Baptist Church’s Bell

African-American history in Virginia dates back to August 1619 when the first Africans were involuntarily brought to the shores of Historic Jamestowne. During February, special events are planned in the Williamsburg area in recognition of Black History Month. Stay at least two nights and take advantage of the “Let Freedom Ring” package at The Williamsburg Lodge, starting at $79 per room, per night based on double occupancy (February 1-29).

Begin your journey at Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th- century Virginia, where the gallery gives you a chance to see and hear the story of the first Africans who arrived in America. On Saturday, February 13, storytelling and musical performances will highlight “African-American Imprint.” This family friendly event features storyteller Sheila Arnold Jones, music by Legacy of Weyanoke and the Charles City Spiritual Ensemble, an African mask craft activity, and special interpretive programs in outdoor living-history areas. Visit historyisfun.org for more.

Then, follow the scenic Colonial Parkway to Colonial Williamsburg to take part in the Let Freedom Ring Challenge. The historic First Baptist Church in Williamsburg was secretly founded in 1776 by slaves. Its bell has been silent for generations...until now.

Throughout February, First Baptist Church and Colonial Williamsburg invite all Americans to come ring the bell. All you have to do is register for a date and time during the month of February through the Let Freedom Ring Challenge website. Times are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Colonial Williamsburg hotel guests will have special access to the bell between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Up to 12 people can register for the same time, perfect for groups wanting to come ring the bell together. Share your story with #WhyIWillRing or #LetFreedomRingChallenge on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Special events that bring African American history to life complement the Let Freedom Ring Challenge, including live performances and storytelling, an African American Quilts exhibition at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, events at The College of William & Mary, and services at First Baptist Church.