Robbins House board member Jayne Gordon is talking to a crowd of about 20 people attending one of Freedom’s Way’s Hidden Treasures event at the house on May 13 when a sharp rap on the front door causes her to pause. Moments later Peter Robbins, aka Joe Zellner, strides into the room wearing a top hat and coat and carrying a long walking stick.
The year is 1851 and Peter, the son of a formerly enslaved Revolutionary War veteran, transports the men and women in attendance back to that time, talking about himself, his family and what is happening in the world around him. It’s more than 70 years after the Colonies won their independence from Britain, but Peter questions how men of color like himself can be independent, although not truly free.
On the following weekend, May 20, Peter returned. Only this time, the rains held off and Peter entertained a similar crowd just outside of the Robbins House. After the reenactment, Peter returned as Joe Z. and, as he did the previous week, engaged attendees in a thoughtful discussion of past events and current attitudes.