As the nation marks its 240th birthday this year, so does one of its oldest African-American houses of worship: Williamsburg’s historic First Baptist Church. Founded secretly in a Green Springs wood amid revolution, it has survived and thrived through enslavement, Civil War, segregation and today’s continued struggles for equality.
A bell acquired by First Baptist Church in 1886 has hung silent since the days of Jim Crow, when the church moved to its current Scotland Street home in 1956. In commemoration of Black History Month and in celebration of its anniversary, the church has invited the nation to come to Williamsburg and ring the bell—restored by Colonial Williamsburg conservators—for the first time in nearly 60 years. The Let Freedom Ring Challenge is call to action for healing, understanding, and racial tolerance.
On Jan. 19 from 1-2 p.m., we will host a special live simulcast of “Another View,” WHRV 89.5-FM’s award-winning call-in talk show. Host Barbara Hamm Lee and an interfaith panel including the First Baptist Church’s pastor, Rev. Reginald Davis, will preview next month’s events and discuss the role of religion in freedom movements and common bonds different faiths share.
“In a time of great uncertainty, it is even more important now than ever before that we embrace all the parts of our shared American History and acknowledged how alike we are in our struggles for freedom,” said Colonial Williamsburg Senior Manager of African-American Programs Stephen Seals, who helped assemble the panel. “I hope that everyone that experiences this program will have a renewed goal of loving thy neighbor and ensuring freedom for us all.”
The Foundation is planning an unprecedented slate of Black History Month events to coincide with the Let Freedom Ring Challenge, from interpretive programs and author visits to the exhibit “A Century of African-American Quilts,” which opens Jan. 30 at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
The simulcast will stream live online next Tuesday from 1:00-2:00. You just need to register here. You may also come and watch in person, on the big screen of Lane Auditorium which is located in Bruton Heights School. Listeners and online viewers are encouraged to join the discussion and share questions or comments by calling 1-800-595-7012 or tweeting at us @CWFlearn using the hashtag #LetFreedomRingChallenge.
Here’s a closer look at who is involved in this endeavor….CLICK HERE