Inspired By Courage: Descendants of Slave Narratives Speak

Sunday, October 27, 3 - 5 p.m., at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present “Inspired by Courage: Descendants of Slave Narratives Speak,” a panel discussion and presentation by four descendants of former slaves who took history into their own hands, on Sunday, October 27, 3-5 p.m.

The program is held in conjunction with the museum’s ongoing special exhibition “Forgotten Soldier: African Americans in the Revolutionary War,” which features personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution, as well as the 400th anniversary of the African-American story with the 1619 arrival of the first recorded Africans in Virginia.

About the Inspired By Courage Presentation

The Life of William Grimes

The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave.

Some of the most dramatic and evocative biographies of the 19th-century came from the pens of former slaves. The “slave narratives,” written by the likes of William Grimes and Solomon Northup, inspired countless others and were an effective tool for the abolitionists.

Today, the lives of these courageous authors are being resurrected by their descendants. Brought together by Regina Mason, a descendant of pioneering author William Grimes, these modern-day chroniclers are reviving the stories of their ancestors to bring inspiration to a new generation.

Four descendants of authors of slave narratives will be on hand on October 27 to share the triumphs of their ancestors over slavery and their use of the written word to inspire others. Book signings will follow the event.

The panel will include:

·         Regina Mason, founder of Inspired By Courage, is the great-great-great-granddaughter of William Grimes who wrote the first fugitive slave narrative in America. The Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave is a work of literary independence.

·         Susi Ryan, fiber artist and quilter, is a ninth-generation descendant of Venture Smith, also known as Broteer, the son of a Prince. In 1798, he chronicled his capture from Africa and life in New England in A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa.

·         Vera Williams is a descendant of Solomon Northrup and founder of the Solomon Northup Foundation. Solomon, a free man, was kidnapped and sold into slavery. After his rescue in 1853, he told of the atrocities of slavery in his book, Twelve Years a Slave.

·         Peggy T.D. Preacely, a civil rights activist and poet jailed in the 1960s Freedom Movement sit-ins is a descendant of enslaved Georgia natives William and Ellen Craft, whose daring escape from slavery is told in their 1860 book, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom.

The panel discussion is included with museum admission: $15.00 for adults, $7.50 for ages 6 through 12, and free for children under 6. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, receive free admission with proof of residency. Reservations are required at (757) 253-4046.

For more information about the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.


Inspired by Courage Panelists