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Slavery Re-Enactment Stirs Mixed Emotions

October 11, 1994| Associated Press

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — About 3,000 spectators, mostly white, stood silent and uneasy as a weeping woman playing the role of a pregnant 18th-Century slave begged a white actor to buy her along with her husband so the couple would not be separated.

When the re-enactment of a day in the life of Colonial Williamsburg was over, some in the audience Monday were weeping too. Among them was a civil rights activist who had denounced the re-enactment as trivializing black history.

Jack Gravely, an official of the state's National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said: "The presentation was passionate, moving and educational."

The auction was one of the most controversial re-enactments that Colonial Williamsburg had attempted, and it drew a smattering of sign-carrying protesters to the tourist community of restored 18th-Century houses and shops.

While organizers said the re-enactment dramatized the horrors of slavery, some complained that it cheapened history and dealt with an episode too painful to handle in a theater-like production.

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