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Source: Philadelphia CityPaper
Date: July 3-9, 2003
Byline: Ainé Ardron-Doley

Historical Whitewash

Independence National Historical Park (INHP) is known as the birthplace of our nation, a place where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were created. And in this historic district, surely the Liberty Bell, an international symbol of peace and freedom, tops most tourists' must-see lists.

Soon, though, they'll have to update their tour-bus maps since the Liberty Bell is moving to Sixth and Market streets, directly atop where President George Washington's home once stood. Which happens to also be the spot where he kept eight enslaved Africans. Enter the controversy.

The acknowledgement of these slaves wasn't part of INHP's design plans until the Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) spearheaded a letter-writing campaign that resulted in a decision to appropriately commemorate the lives of the enslaved Africans. The improved plans for the treatment of the slaves were revealed to the public in January but ATAC spokesperson Michael Coard says there's still a big beef.

"There must be black historians, black planners, black designers, black architects, black construction workers, etc. who are actively and substantively involved in every step of this commemorative project," says Coard, noting his group also wants the former slave quarters clearly marked. And to that end, ATAC plans a 4 p.m. protest at the Liberty Bell today.


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