Connie Harshaw & Dr. Reginald Davis: February 21, 2018



Founded in 1776, America’s Historic First Baptist Church “Freedom Bell? Rings Sunday February 25, 2018 during the Most Segregated Hour of the Week

Connie Harshaw, First Elected NCWN President of the Potomac Valley and Reverend




Dr. Reginald Davis – First Baptist Church of Williamsburg


The Bell at the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, one of the oldest African-American Baptist churches in the United States, rang for the first time since segregation in 2016.   In 2017, President Obama rang the bell to celebrate the historic grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  On Sunday, February 25th the bell will ring again to heal America’s racial divide after a tumultuous year marked by violence, strife and protest in Charlottesville, VA, scuffles at the University of Virginia, and rallies across the nation.

The First Baptist Church of Williamsburg, will light the way by calling on churches around the country to bring awareness to what unites us, and appeal for racial harmony during the 11’0clock church service – traditionally the most segregated hour of the week in American households.

On February 25th, the last Sunday of Black History Month, the church will spearhead a yearlong initiative to ignite inclusion and racial harmony during the 11’Oclock hour.  Led by Pastor Davis, the day’s celebratory service invites Americans of colors, faith, and creed – young and old – to join in celebration.   Speaker and guest Pastor, Rev. Travis Simone of the Williamsburg Community Chapel will highlight the day’s ceremony with a special sermon and the lauded College of William & Mary Choir will perform.

Invited guests include Governor Ralph NorthamLieutenant Governor Justin FairfaxCongressmen Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman,Senators Tim Kaine and

Mark Warner, and Virginia Delegates Danica RoemElizabeth Guzman and Hala AyalaKathy Tran, as well as Michael Signer, Mayor of Charlottesville, VA.

The church, recently designated as a National US Historic site, will commemorate the day with the launch of the Let Freedom Ring Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to preserve the historic building and treasured historic artifacts dating from 1776, and to maintain the recently restored 1886 “Let Freedom Ring” bell.  The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), founded by educator, activist and civil rights leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, has pledged the first contribution of $10, 000 toward the work to conserve the church and its deep rooted history.

Founded in secret by a group of enslaved men and women in 1776, the First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, celebrated its 240th anniversary in 2016.  It is today one of the country’s oldest African-American houses of Baptist worship1, and a symbol of the faith, struggle, and perseverance that marks the black experience in America. The First Baptist Church — whose first members met under thatched arbors in the woods — moved to a brick church building before the Civil War and acquired a bell in the late 19th century.  Due to disrepair, the 500 pound bell remained inoperable through the days of segregation and Jim Crow…unheard throughout the tumult and progress of the civil rights movement until 2016 when The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation restored the bell to working condition in time to challenge Americans to “Let Freedom Ring” by ringing the church bell throughout the day – every day – during Black History Month 2016.   Over 4,000 Americans rang the famed Bell in Williamsburg, with more than 7 million ringing virtually online.   The First Baptist Church, now a designated National Historic Landmark, and believed to be the first church in the United States organized entirely by African Americans, for African Americans, is a special reminder of our history. Its renowned “Freedom Bell” continues to draw visitors to ring the bell for peace, justice, harmony and equality throughout the year.

On February 22nd, Connie Harshaw, president of the Potomac Valley Section and Reverend Dr. Reginald Davis from the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg will be available to you and your listeners to discuss how people can get involved with ringing the bell and being part of the process of healing, peace and hope as an international call-to-action with a ceremonial kick-off ignites a movement.


For more information please visit www.  



Connie Matthews Harshaw began her career in public service with the U S. Navy at the Newport News Shipyard as a student employee in 1972. She retired from the Federal government as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) in 2004 after a 30 year career with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards); NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA Headquarters in Washington, Air Force at Langley AFB; NIH National Cancer Institute; Army at Ft. Meade and Navy in Crystal City. Her last appointment, while a career civil servant, was with the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) as the Chief Operating Officer. During her tour with NCPC, she became the agency’s first female African-American SES. While at the Commission, she worked with the planners and architects to EXTEND THE LEGACY in the nation’s capital. In addition to serving the agency’s principal management official, she lists as her most important work, the assignment as Acting Executive Director to negotiate the site parameters for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in 1999. She attended Hampton University and transferred to the University of Maryland where she received her BS degree in Business Management and an MBA. She became a Senior Executive Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and completed the program in 1992. After retirement she formed her own business in Williamsburg, VA and currently serves as a consultant and advisor to several Presidential Appointees in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.




Reverend Dr. Reginald F. Davis has presided as pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Williamsburg, Virginia since January 2004.   The twenty-first pastor of First Baptist Church, Pastor Davis holds a Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in New York, and a Doctorate in Humanities, with a concentration in African American Studies from Florida State University. Pastor Davis received his Bachelor of Art degree from the Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas.



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