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Slavery is a tough role, hard sell at Colonial Williamsburg says the headline in the Washington Post:

Even as Colonial Williamsburg and other historic sites have tried to do justice to the story of slavery and attract more minority visitors, they’ve sometimes had difficulty persuading black actors to take jobs interpreting enslaved figures.

Part of his job, Seals said, is to ensure that the actors remember that they are not who they interpret. “We’re taught to be detached from your character. Doing these roles really tests that hypothesis,” he said. “It’s not for everyone.”

The costumes can be psychologically problematic. So, too, can guests, who often aren’t sure how to respond when confronted with a shameful chapter of American history.

Sympathetic visitors to Williamsburg have been known to bump or block white actor-interpreters who are haranguing or otherwise mistreating enslaved black characters. Occasionally, they’ve grabbed prop guns or started to shout about fighting back.

Racist and demeaning comments aren’t uncommon. Willie Wright, a veteran actor-interpreter, said a child once asked him if he was a slave. When Wright said yes, the boy, who was white, demanded that Wright bring him a soda.

Colonial Williamsburg has struggled to fill one slavery role: that of a young, black male.

The position, a full-time job that pays between $13 and $18 an hour, has been open for two years, said Weldon, the organization’s director of historic area programming. “Some people turned us down because they didn’t want to portray an enslaved character.” Other sites in Virginia and Maryland have hit similar roadblocks.

…the increased emphasis on black history hasn’t helped position Colonial Williamsburg as a major destination for African American tourists.

In the late 1990s, African Americans accounted for just 4 percent of the site’s approximately 1 million annual visitors. Over the past few years, as overall paid attendance has dropped — it was just over 650,000 last year — the percentage of African American visitors has also fallen. By between 2 and 3 percent over the past few years, according to Colonial Williamsburg officials.

Read it all.

Another in a series drawing on @TodayinVa from Encylopedia Virginia.

Quote:

The Westmoreland County slave plot compelled lawmakers to create a series of restrictions aimed at preventing further conspiracies. On July 26, 1690, Virginia lieutenant governor Francis Nicholson issued a proclamation ordering that the 1680 act be publicly read at all county courts and parish churches every six months. The following year, on April 3, 1691, the General Assembly passed “An act for suppressing outlying slaves,” which granted county sheriffs, their deputies, and any other “lawfull authority” the ability to kill any slaves resisting, running away, or refusing to surrender themselves when so ordered. For each slave killed in this manner, owners would collect 4,000 pounds of tobacco from the colonial government. The act further sought to prevent the “abominable mixture and spurious issue” of mixed-race unions by prohibiting English men or women from marrying any “negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free.”

As the first conspiracy in British North America not involving white supporters or participants, the Westmoreland plot confirmed long-held fears among planters while provoking new ones. Their concerns were now focused more sharply on enslaved African Americans, helping to show how Africanized the colony’s labor force had become since the Servants’ Plot of 1663. Servitude in Virginia had become a condition largely dictated by race, and, in the future, servile revolts would be planned and executed almost exclusively by blacks. Indeed, until John Brown‘s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, white support for slave revolts in Virginia was minimal at best.

Emphasis added. Parish churches means Church of England parishes, the precursor to The Episcopal Church. As the established church it was an instrument of the government of the time.

Read it all at EncyclopediaVirginia.org

I am descended from Chiltons who had large landholdings in Westmoreland during this time.