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Source: Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC)
Date: May 25, 2007
Byline: Michael Coard

President's House Project: Digging For The White And Black Truth

This is a response to Let's not throw dirt on the city's history

Because the Inquirer's architecture critic Inga Saffron has an apparently well-deserved reputation for completely and contextually referencing statements made by persons she interviews, I assume that what was published under her name on May 25 in connection with me was the result of deletions made by an editor concerned with brevity (i.e., form) rather than accuracy (i.e., substance). Accordingly, I submit this letter to correct the record by informing the Inquirer readers of what I previously informed Ms. Saffron.

I certainly did tell Ms. Saffron that "it would be a crime and a sin to bury… (the recently uncovered findings resulting from the archaeological dig at the Sixth and Market Street site of the President's House where George Washington presided from 1790-1797 and where he held nine of his 316 enslaved Blacks)." But that's not nearly all I said. I completely and contextually said that it would be a crime and a sin for the uncovered findings not to be incorporated into the ongoing President's House project "if" such incorporation is "doable physically, financially, and legally" (not to mention contractually). In addition, I said that I would defer to the project's experts at Kelly/Maiello- which is a prominent Philadelphia architectural firm that is heading a team of nationally renowned planners, designers, historians, and others- to determine whether such incorporation is physically "doable" and the project's overseers- namely the professionals in the City of Philadelphia's finance and law departments- to determine whether such incorporation is financially, legally, and contractually "doable."

The "crime and the sin" are not in the burying, per se, but instead are in leading the Inquirer's readers to mistakenly believe that I- as a proud African American and a founding member and official spokesperson of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC), which is the massive African American activist organization that fought five years for the slavery commemoration component of the President's House project- would ever even suggest minimizing the slavery component in order to maximize the archaeological dig component. In other words, if burying the historic findings is the best method of telling the whole story of the President's House and slavery, then let the burying commence by planting the seed of history in order to grow the tree of truth.

The Kelly/Maiello team has researched, deliberated, planned, and designed this President's House project and has impressively highlighted the slavery commemoration component in a way that will tell the story of slavery unlike it has ever been told since the founding of this country. And as I mentioned to Ms. Saffron, "In the same manner in which the Founding Fathers wrote of 'creating a more perfect union,' the Kelly/Maiello team is certainly qualified to create a 'more perfect' project" by expanding upon its already perfect project. But that can be done if and only if it's "doable physically, financially, legally, and contractually." That decision should and will be made only by the aforementioned experts and professionals.

Michael Coard, Esquire
Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC)


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