Confederacy museum delves into African-American folktales

RICHMOND, Va. – The telling of folk tales is a tradition in all cultures. Those who could tell them were often revered members of their communities. The tradition did not stop during the Civil War. “In the Shadow of the Baobab Tree: Folktales from the Civil War” will be presented by a traveling griot, Safiya Johnson from Alabama, at the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox on Wednesday, Aug. 1, beginning at 1 p.m. EDT.

After long hours of work as camp servants, personal attendants, and battlefield soldiers, Confederate blacks would occasionally gather in the evenings around communal campfires for Brer Rabbit, the quintessential trickster figure in African American folklore of the South, and other animal folktale-telling. Regardless of their plantation identification, they knew these humorous folktales taught basic lessons about personal behavior, family interactions, struggles with authority and love and death from an unsentimental reality. Today’s program retells some of those iconic tales, as a means of recognizing an invaluable historic oral tradition among African Americans of the South—free and enslaved—who participated in the Confederate war effort.

The program is free of charge with admission to the museum. Advanced registration is not required. For more information contact: Josie Butler at or toll free at 855-649-1861 ext. 203.