At the ceremony commemorating the move of the Bray House in Williamsburg, Virginia to its new Colonial Williamsburg site on February 10th, 2023, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared that “we must teach all of our history, all of it, the good and the bad.” It was a heartening sentiment for many there who had come to pay respect to those who were educated at what is believed to be the oldest existing structure built for educating Black children—both free and enslaved—from 1760-1774.
The importance of intergenerational connections when it comes to understanding our past cannot be overstated. In some families, some stories have been passed down that hold far more information than any written record could provide. It is these personal relations to the past that enable us to gain a deeper insight into events that have affected us and the world around us, instilling in us a greater appreciation for history.
In uncovering the original structure of the Bray School in 2020, researchers revealed invaluable information about our past that gives us a new narrative with which to shape our understanding of history. Through further research, musicology, psychology, and other studies we can continue to expand our knowledge of our rich heritage and become better equipped for forging ahead into the future through education.
Governor Youngkin’s sentiment indicates that even after centuries of being misinformed or under-informed about history, it is possible to embrace change and recognize how powerful knowledge can be, enabling us to create a better future. In this era of constant change, let us all be open to the new information we come across and continue to strive towards a more accurate interpretation of our past.