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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: October 17, 2003
Byline: Michael Coard, Avenging the Ancestors Coalition Philadelphia

Letter: Mayor honors memory of slaves

Mayor Street took a historic step toward racial healing in America at the ceremonies marking the move of the Liberty Bell to its new home (Oct. 10, "Bell's move resonates harmony, decorum"). Street read a letter that confirmed his support for a commemorative project next to the new Liberty Bell Center to honor the eight enslaved Africans who resided at George Washington's "White House."

"When the country's greatest symbol of liberty is moved to its new home, we must fully include the plight and contributions of African Americans as a critical part of American history... (and must) ensure that the full history of the spirit of liberty and the struggle for equality is told," the letter said.

Street agreed to install a plaque on the portion of the city-owned land that abuts the new Liberty Bell pavilion as a marker for the slave quarters where a number of the eight Africans were housed. He further agreed to join the Avenging the Ancestors Coalition and U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) in raising funds for a memorial to slavery as part of the proposed President's House monument.

And if all of that were not enough, Street then agreed to commit $1.5 million to this effort and pledged to lobby at the state and federal levels for full funding of this project.

By agreeing to do all of this, the mayor has actively, substantively and historically participated in, as his letter put it, "the only significant tribute by the federal government to the history of slavery in this country."

For his support of that endeavor, every African American and every liberty-loving American in Philadelphia should be forever grateful and eternally proud of Mayor Street.

 

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