ASPiRE supports the #LetFreedomRingChallenge

Founded in 1776 by enslaved men and women, the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, one of the country’s oldest African-American houses of worship, will celebrate its 240th anniversary with the first ringing of its restored bell, which has laid silent since the days of segregation. In honor of the historic occasion, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, whose conservators restored the bell, will host a special ceremony at the First Baptist Church on February 1st, 2016. The event, featuring America’s civil rights heroes and activists will launch a challenge to the nation to ring the restored bell throughout the day — every day — during Black History Month as a call for racial healing, peace, and justice nationwide.

The first ringing of the bell will take place on February 1st at 10 am, EST and will include civil rights giants Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Bernard Lafayette, Rhea McCauley representing the family of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, and dignitaries U.S Ambassador-at-Large Suzan Johnson Cook (2011-2013 - Obama Administration), Hampton University President Dr. William Harvey, as well as artists and social activists Danny Glover, Dionne Warwick and Esperanza Spalding. The Let Freedom Ring: A Call to Heal a Nation ceremonies will honor the church, and challenge all Americans to play a part in history by ringing the bell throughout Black History Month. 

“The First Baptist Church and its bell encapsulate the complex and at times tragic history of race relations in America,” said Mitchell B. Reiss, President and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “The bell’s restoration not only demonstrates our recognition of the past, it also symbolizes our determination to continue the march toward justice and the ‘more perfect union’ envisioned by the Founding Fathers on these very streets. We are excited to present these special events as part of our effort to honor Black History, and to galvanize Americans of all backgrounds to ring for progress and the nation’s healing.”

To reserve a spot to ring the bell and for more information about events and activities during Black History Month visit www.LetFreedomRingChallenge.org