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WILLIAMSBURG, Va., January 20, 2012 – “From Africa to Virginia” is the theme of interpretive programs throughout February at Jamestown Settlement history museum.  Lectures at 2 p.m. Sundays, February 12 and 19, complement a monthlong focus on the culture of the first known Africans in Virginia and the experience of Africans in colonial America.

Lauranett L. Lee, Virginia Historical Society curator of African American history, will speak February 12 on “Exploring 17th-Century Virginia: Legislating Boundaries and Creating Culture.”  An examination of Virginia statutes illustrates how the lives of women and Africans became increasingly circumscribed in 17th-century Virginia.  Dr. Lee will discuss the ways in which focused legislation and cultural collisions produced a legal society and culture unique among the founding colonies.

Christy S. Coleman, president of The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and award-winning screenwriter for educational television, will present “In the Cause of Liberty: Shaping the American Ideal of Freedom” on February 19.  She will explore the concept of freedom as a legacy of early settlers and how over time the interpretation of its meaning, along with founding documents, led to the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

During February the theme “From Africa to Virginia” is reflected in a printed family guide of Jamestown Settlement’s expansive gallery exhibits and in daily guided tours of the museum’s outdoor living-history areas.

The galleries 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.

Daily outdoor tours of Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, 1607 English ships and 1610-14 colonial fort, offered every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. February 1-17 and at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. February 18-29, compare fishing, hunting, construction and metalworking skills of Africans in Angola with technology used in 17th-century Virginia.  During the tours, participants will be invited to participate in role play that 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.

Jamestown Settlement is operated by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency that also administers the Yorktown Victory Center, where visitors will be invited throughout February to learn about the lives of African Americans during the American Revolution period.  The theme will be a focus of guided tours of the museum’s re-created Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm offered February 1-17 every hour from 10:05 a.m. to 4:05 p.m.  Indoors, the Witnesses to Revolution Gallery and “The Legacy of Yorktown: Virginia Beckons” exhibition address the impact of the Revolution on African Americans.

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 $20 for adults, $10 for ages 6 through 12.  Individual Jamestown Settlement admission is $15.50 for adults, $7.25 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 February 12 and 19 lectures at Jamestown Settlement are included with admission.  Advance reservations are recommended by calling (757) 253-4572 or e-mailing rsvp@jyf.virginia.gov.

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.