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Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Date: October 20, 2005
Byline: Rob Morris, Westtown

Letter: President's House & The Legacy Of Slavery

Sharon Ann Holt's letter attributes to me qualities of fear, exclusion and a kind of arrogance that I don't believe "We can handle the nuances of the slavery story."

Allow me to point out a sentence in my last letter: "Please let us remember the people who cooked Washington's breakfast, made the beds and groomed the horses." This shows we agree about discussing the lives of all the people in the house, including the slaves and the indentured servants. I also supported a memorial to "enslaved Africans" as a general group. I just don't think this is the right spot for a memorial of that latter kind.

I said, "A better place for that kind of memorial would be inside the spacious Liberty Bell Pavilion, at Monticello, or on the D.C. mall."

While it is true that all the stories can be told, the real question is: Will they be told? This question hangs in the air not because of the people of America, but because of the board of overseers.

In a public forum held on Oct. 30 last year, one said, "I don't give a damn about Washington." On July 3, 2002, another said to a crowd of 500 African-American protesters, "This is a crime scene" (meaning the President's House) and, "The revolution was won with blood money – our blood."

A third is walking around town saying one spot is sacred because a slave slept there. The National Park Service representative revealed a previous proposal for this site featuring four different 14-foot statues of enslaved Africans in chains near the door to the Liberty Bell Pavilion. A fifth seems to think that such displays would increase tourism.

I am concerned because there are NO presidential historians on the board of overseers while there is a surplus of politicians, bureaucrats and activists.

I am concerned because I have read the city's goals for the site. I see they want a biased presentation within a memorial to slavery, not a real interpretation of the President's House as has been pretended.

I am concerned because all of the Founding Fathers who lived in that house worked against slavery, and to think otherwise is to believe that all "old dead white guys" were alike.

I do not lack respect for the people of America, I call on them to stop the creation of Slavery Mall on the very site where the seeds of all our liberties were planted.


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