Colonial Williamsburg, Black Church to Ring in New Era

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In this photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, historical interpreters Robert Watson Jr., talks with a fellow interpreter, Janice Canaday, left, at the Randolph house in the restored area of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va. Despite a growing and continuing emphasis on African-American history, Colonial Williamsburg has struggled to attract more black visitors to the historic village where interpreters stroll the streets attired in bonnets and tricorn hats. It’s a hard sell when human enslavement is a part of the story you’re trying to tell.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, historical interpreters Robert Watson Jr., talks with a fellow interpreter, Janice Canaday, left, at the Randolph house in the restored area of Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va. Despite a growing and continuing emphasis on African-American history, Colonial Williamsburg has struggled to attract more black visitors to the historic village where interpreters stroll the streets attired in bonnets and tricorn hats. It’s a hard sell when human enslavement is a part of the story you’re trying to tell. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — Colonial Williamsburg is reintroducing itself to African-American visitors.

The Virginia heritage site has struggled to attract Black tourists, despite a continuing emphasis on African-American history. Now, the foundation that operates the village where interpreters stroll around in tricorn hats is launching an initiative to change that.

A church founded by slaves is at the center of the effort. Colonial Williamsburg has loaned a team of its vaunted historic conservation experts to the First Baptist Church to repair its long-silenced bell.

In February, Black History Month, the bell will ring for the first time in decades.

More than half of the 2,000 people who lived in Williamsburg in the late 18th century were Black; most were slaves.