Since 1997, Hasan Davis has been bringing history alive. York, Black Explorer of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is the second living history performance created by Hasan. Yorks Story takes him from Enslavement into the greatest challenges that a person can face. In a race against nature and time York proved himself to be as capable and sometimes more capable than most of the able bodied volunteer of the Corp of Discovery.
The man know only as York, was born into the system of American slavery in Caroline County Virginia around 1774. At an Early age he was chosen, probably due to his intelect as well as his physical size, to be the body servant of William Clark.
The Clark Family moved to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War. There York and William grew from boyhood friends into their expected roles as Slave and Master. By all records York Served William well and without hesitation for nearely 30 years.
In the fall of 1803 William Clark was apporached, by his friend and fellow Officer, Merriwether Lewis, with a charge from the president to find or create a route from the frontier of the United States to the Pacific Ocean in the Northwest corner of the continent. When Clark agreed to join Lewis on this Corp of Discovery it was assumed that York would go along, although he was never given the chance to refuse.
Over three years the Corp of Discovery faced and overcame the challenges of the NW territories. York exchanged his slave status for something that looked at times very much like equality, even to the point of having a fair vote in the business of the camp. Once the Corp of discover began to meet and live among the Natives whom at that time Europeans still called Americans, York status was made even greater. Many of the Americans looked at York as a man touched by God. Many Indian tribes and nations gave York new names like Black Indian or Gift from God. And on more than one occasion the presence of his black
skin was enough to put concerned and distrust of white men at ease, possibly preventing violence and open conflict.
One would think that after such a trek York would return the the "Civilization" as much a hero as his white skinned companions. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When all was said and done, the volunteer patriots who had sacraficed for their country and endured so much hardship at the request of the president, received large land grants and double pay. York received nothing for his hard work and team spirit, not even the right to call himself a free man.
The story of York is a story of brotherhood, friendship and ultimately, dissapointment. York discovered his spirit of freeom, what it felt like to walk with head held high, to be a hero. But, when he returned to "Civilization" that new spirit nearly killed him. William Clark, A man that York would probably have freely given his own life for, could not imagine York as anything to him except property, a slave.