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Edith Cumbo: An Enduring Spirit


Hampton History Museum
120 Old Hampton Ln 23669 Hampton United States
Meet Edith Cumbo as portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg character actor Emily James.

Edith Cumbo was a free mulatto woman, born around 1735 to a free black man and a white woman who was an indentured Irish servant.

She was an independent business woman who grew corn, wheat and tobacco on her plot of land. Edith also earned income as a seamstress and laundress. Within the black community she was a matriarch who never married so that she could retain control of her property.

She remained within the bounds of her community, where everyone knew her as a free black; if she ventured out she could be spirited away and sold into slavery. These were just some of the challenges free African American women dealt with on a daily basis in Virginia’s colonial capitol city.

Through James’ portrayal of Cumbo, you’ll discover how free black Virginians lived in Williamsburg and navigated daily challenges in the colonial city.

The program is free and open to the public. Bring a bag lunch—we’ll have free dessert.

The Hampton History Museum is located at 120 Old Hampton Lane in Downtown Hampton. For more information call 757-727-1610.

Photo: Emily James as Edith Cumbo. Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

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