Performing artist/storyteller Tammy Denease will bring the story of Belinda Royall to St. Mary’s Church Hall on Sunday, February 12 at 2:00 p.m. for the Multicultural Network and St. Mary’s Peace and Justice Committee’s annual community celebration of Black History Month. Belinda, an African-born captive who was brought to work in the Royall House in Medford, was born into the Asanti Kingdom, kidnapped, and sold into slavery to the Royall family on the island of Antigua and then to Medford.
In the eighteenth century, the Royall House and Slave Quarters were home to the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts. Today, the Royall House and Slave Quarters is a museum open to the public for tours on weekends from June through October.
Ms.Denease, who is not affiliated in any way with any religious institution, specializes in bringing to life the lives of historically significant but little known women in history. Belinda Royall is one of these. Although denied the ability to read and write, she petitioned the government for what was rightfully hers: reparations for her slave labor.
Denease’s great-grandmother was a former enslaved person and Denease credits her and her grandmother for passing on their gift of storytelling. Denease, a lover of history, is a museum educator who instructs children through stories of colonial history, health, medicine, slavery and Native American history. She also serves as an historical tour guide to local colonial-american homes. She has done extensive research on the women she has chosen for interpretive portrayals. “This program is sure to expand our understanding of important figures in American history,” says Felicity Tuttle, a member of the planning committee.
The program is free and all are welcome.
See Tammy Denease’s interview by Connecticut storyteller Andre Keitt.
Learn more about Belinda Royall Sutton and her Petitions.
This performance is co-sponsored by St. Mary’s Parish Peace & Justice Ministry and the Winchester Multicultural Network, thanks to a generous grant from the Cummings Foundation.
Photo of Denease as Belinda courtesy photographer Bert Gildart.