City of Manassas, VA . . . On Dec. 15 and 16 enjoy a holiday program at Liberia Plantation entitled, “A New Birth of Freedom.” In the early winter of 1862, as soldiers and civilians resigned themselves to the reality of a long, bloody Civil War, African-Americans found hope in the words of a proclamation – the Emancipation Proclamation. Although the proclamation would not take effect until Jan. 1, 1863 and would not free slaves across the country, African-Americans in northern Virginia had reason to celebrate as Christmas approached. This anticipation will be the focus of A New Birth of Freedom presented by the Manassas Museum at Liberia Plantation.
Liberia, a prosperous 2,000-acre plantation at the start of the Civil War, was abandoned by its owners after its Confederate occupation in 1861 and Union occupation in the spring of 1862. Those loyal African-American slaves that remained at Liberia and at all the area’s plantations would have been deeply affected by news of the Proclamation, which promised freedom toslaves who lived in Northern Virginia between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.
Although most Christmas celebrations in this area during the winter of 1862 would have been bleak, A New Birth of Freedom will capture the anticipation and sense of celebration that echoed through the African-American community. Visitors on the timed tours will encounter renowned storytellers and historic interpreters relating individual stories of sacrifice and ambition of slaves who were facing an unknown future of expected hope and promise.
Museum program coordinator Doug Horhota says the message of Emancipation speaks to larger Christmas themes. “What is the true meaning of Christmas? It involves celebration, anticipation and hope. This program highlights the celebration and anticipation of what the Emancipation Proclamation meant to the African-American community. It was an experience that didn’t happen very often in the annals of human history,” Horhota explains. “Do you remember when the Berlin Wall came down? Imagine the anticipation if you knew it was coming down in two weeks.”
African-American Interpreters Marion Dobbins, Dylan Pritchett and Robert Watson, who have all performed at Colonial Williamsburg and other prominent historic venues, will use stories and music to dramatize the roles of African-Americans on the Liberia grounds. The house will be decorated and open for limited tours and light refreshments. Buses will transport visitors from the museum to Liberia Plantation for timed tours beginning at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, and at 2 p.m., 3.p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 16.
Tickets may be purchased at www.manassasmuseum.org<http://www.manassasmuseum.org> or by calling 703-257-8453. Advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended.