Nearly two centuries after Thomas Jefferson declared that “all men are created equal,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a nation still torn by racial division and oppression closer to fulfilling the promise of that founding ideal. Today we honor Dr. King as one of America’s most transformative and courageous leaders. I believe we can all strive to build on his legacy by continually seeking ways—large and small—to ensure that our cherished principles of liberty and equality hold true not just for some, but for all.
Over the years, Colonial Williamsburg has made important strides in examining and sharing the African American experience, and in particular, the painful history of slavery in the Colonial era. It is now our privilege to partner with Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church—one of our Nation’s oldest black houses of worship, founded by slaves and free blacks in 1776—on a unique endeavor that aims not only to honor our past, but to bring us one step closer to Dr. King’s dream of reconciliation and unity.
Working with the church, we have restored the long dormant bell in its tower to working order. In February 2016, it will ring for the first time since the days of segregation. We invite all Americans to ring this bell—a symbol of freedom, and of hope—throughout the day, every day during Black History Month in February.
I hope you will consider taking part in this remarkable, historic initiative; to reserve your time to ring the bell, please visit letfreedomringchallenge.org. In the meantime, thank you, as always, for your continuing friendship. We hope to see you soon.
Mitchell B. Reiss
President & CEO