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Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Date: December 21, 2009
Byline: Byron W. Woodson Sr.

Letter: Place emphasis on local ancestors

The committee convened to guide the President's House memorial should help create history that is reflective of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania at the time this nation came into being.

My ancestor, Joseph Williams, and far more than a dozen other free African Americans, lived on the National Historical Park site at the time this nation was founded. The National Park Service has already memorialized the racially integrated and relatively cohesive nature of the Philadelphia community at that time by identifying the residents of the Constitution Center site and their residences on plaques located at the center.

Pennsylvania adopted the first state-based emancipation act in 1780. Was it not adopted within the historic park site, and did it not clearly form a precedent for this nation's greatest transformation after becoming a nation? That success should be recognized here, not the experience of nine Virginians who lived here temporarily.

Byron W. Woodson Sr.
Philadelphia

 

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