Return to Home PageThe President's House

In the News index

Source: Philadelphia Tribune
Date: July 8, 2006
Byline: Kenny Waters

Finding Black contractors

While the United States took the time out to celebrate exactly 230 years of Independence from Great Britain Tuesday, Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) spent their time reminding people what the Fourth of July really means to African Americans and how they should be commemorated for their experiences during America's reign to freedom.

Up until this year prior to every Fourth of July, ATAC, which is a broad-based coalition of historians, activists and tax-paying citizens, has held a protest outside of Independence Mall.

Their mission was to force the city and the Independence National Historical Park (INHP) to stop ignoring the fact that President Washington held enslaved Africans in brutal bondage at America's first recognized White House.

And as of this year, and finally getting the city and INHP to finalize the construction of a commemoration, ATAC was again in full force on the front lawn of Independence Mall fighting for another cause.

"We now demand that today's free Blacks be selected to play a leading role in designing and constructing that monument," said ATAC Founder Michael Coard. "Now that we got the federal government to finally agree to this commemoration, now we go to the second issue."

According to the vibrant Coard, what he is referring to is that the descendants of those Black mothers and fathers who were forced into unpaid labor during slavery, have their offspring paid for the fruition of this memorial.

One supporter held a sign that read, "Yesterday's Black Pain, Today's Black Brains."

"Enslave Yesterday, Employ Today," said another.

"I'm truly disappointed in this," said ATAC supporter Fred Golden about not knowing as of Tribune press time if there were Black contractors working on this memorial. "There were several qualified individuals here in Philadelphia that we contacted that are more than capable of doing this project."

The commemoration, called "The President's House: Freedom and Slavery in Making a New Nation," has expectations of being a symbol of history and possibly becoming Philadelphia's most popular tourist attraction. "I think it will be a travesty if this memorial is not steered, built, and directed by the hands of Black people," said Golden. "The obstacle is not over, and what this protest does is keep the fight alive because there is still a need to raise hell, because there are more hurdles on the horizon."

 

Return to Start Page | In the News index

historic documents, declaration, constitution, more