Penn’s Landing: Arrival Point of First Africans, Philadelphia approved for a State Historical Marker

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Announcement

4/12/16      The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project is happy to announce that “Penn’s Landing: Arrival Point of First Africans, Philadelphia” is among the 23 new state historical markers recently approved by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC)!

Charles Blockson, Curator Emeritus of Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection housed at Temple University Libraries, submitted the nomination including letters of support from members of the community.

The markers, selected from 61 applications, will be added to the nearly 2,300 familiar blue-with-gold-lettering signs that appear along roads and streets throughout Pennsylvania.

Among the 23 new state historical markers are Hotel Brotherhood USA, a labor union, established  by hotel workers (1883),  Jackie Ormes, the first African American woman cartoonist, and John S. Fine, Governor of PA (1951 – 1955) whose administration ended segregation of the National Guard and opened the State Police to African Americans. HARRISBURG, Pa., March 22, 2016 /PRNewswire

The proposed date of installation at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River is August 5, 2016. Contact the Blockson Archives for more information.

The proposed text of the Marker will read:

Penn’s Landing: Arrival Point of First Africans, Philadelphia

The first slave ship arrived at the Philadelphia port in 1684, carrying African slaves to William Penn’s newly established colony.  In the early years of PA, the Quakers in power did little to discourage slavery.  Many owned their own slaves and did not prevent the importation of slaves to the colony.  Although PA is considered a leader in the abolitionist movement, slavery was an accepted institution in the state’s early history.

Research identifying all ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade* identifies the Port of Philadelphia on the Delaware River as one of more than 175 middle passage ports in 50 nations of North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Established in 2013, The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project (PhillyMPC) has worked to gather support for the nomination and raise funds for the installation of a historical marker in their memory. On June 2nd, each year, PhillyMPC has commemorated the Africans who perished in the Middle Passage by observing Ancestral Remembrance Day on Penn’s Landing.

PhillyMPC supports the larger, ongoing effort to build an International Coalition to Commemorate African Ancestors of the Middle Passage (ICCAAMP), in conjunction with the UNESCO Slave Route Project, to bring together all individuals, organizations, programs, and events related to the retrieval and preservation of Middle Passage history and heritage, including Remembrance ceremonies held around the United States and the world.  Since 2011, a non-profit umbrella organization, the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP). executive Director Ann Chinn, www.middlepassageproject.org has supported the planning of ancestral remembrance ceremonies by geographic regions in all U.S. cities that were middle passage ports.

 

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Blessing of the River, Ancestral Remembrance Day 2013, Photo by Bob Lott

Giving these events even more significance, this is the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024)..

March 23: Marks the observance of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade 

August 23:  International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition 

 

*Recorded Ships Importing Africans into Pennsylvania and NJ (1760 – 1800)       * Data obtained from Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Emory University (www.slavevoyages.org)

 

Denise Valentine, Project Coordinator: 

The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony and Port Marker Project  

~Ancestral Remembrance Day Philly

P.S. (We are considering changing the June 2nd date for Ancestral Remembrance Day to August 5th to coincide with the installation of the marker. Do you think this is a good idea? Contact us.)

phillympc20poster202014

 

 

 

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Upcoming Storytelling Performances!

http://eepurl.com/bQEPfn

Winter 2016 Storytelling Performances! Penn State Schuylkill Haven, UNSILENCED and One Book One Philadelphia!

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Paul Robeson, West Philly Folk Hero

Listen to Keepers of the Culture, Inc. (KOTC) tell the story of Paul Robeson on SoundCloud!

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KOTC, Inc. Logo ©1996 Columbus Knox

Opening song: Charlotte Blake-Alston Hosts: Tahira Akua Tahira and Dr. C. Frink Reed
Storyteller: Denise Valentine.

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Brought to you by Scribe Video Center and PNC Arts Alive on WPEB 881FM Community Radio Station.

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Comment by Louis Massiah, Executive Director, Scribe Video Center, Philadelphia | Shared by TAHIRA

 

Come out and enjoy Keepers of the Culture, Inc. Live in Performance at Sundays on Stage! Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central, October 18, 2015, 2:00 PM. 

 

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Philadelphia President’s House Monument featured on Travel Channel

In case you missed it, see the rebroadcast of #Mysteries at the Monument featuring the President’s House on the Travel Channel, 9/4, 5pm EST. Or, Catch it on my YouTube Channel.

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Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project

Philadelphia Middle Passage
Ancestral Remembrance Day –
Annually, June 2nd, 2015

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The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project is leading the movement to conduct an annual Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony at Penn’s Landing. Our purpose is to acknowledge the Port of Philadelphia, and other locations on the Delaware River, as a port of entry for Africans during the transatlantic human trade; to commemorate the nearly 2 million Africans who perished in the Middle Passage; and, to install a historical marker in their memory.  On June 2nd each year, we observe Ancestral Remembrance Day with a Blessing of the River. We celebrate the triumphant survival of the descendants of those Africans, and their contributions to this nation. Finally, we call for healing and hope for future generations.

We ask that you come to the river. Bring your prayers, bring your drums, bring your bells, bring flowers or candles, bring your voices, your stories and most important, bring your spirit to honor our ancestors and uplift our youth. Our gathering on Penn’s Landing will began at 5: 30 on the pier behind Independence Seaport Museum. Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA.

Please also observe a moment of silence at 5:30AM, on June 2nd wherever you are in the world.

Visit the website for details on this year’s observance June 2, 2015: https://sites.google.com/site/philadelphiampc/

and, get updates on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhillyMiddlePassage or

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhiladelphiaMPC

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Spring / Summer 2015 Storytelling Performance Calendar

What’s Up Next! Save the Date!

Denise Valentine @ Philadelphia Folklore Project - photo by Diane Macklin

Denise Valentine @ Philadelphia Folklore Project – photo by Diane Macklin

Spring / Summer 2015

May 16, 3 PM – 4:30 PM
WHERE DOES MY STORY BEGIN?      Philadelphia Folklore Project  PFP logo
Philadelphia Folklore Project
735 South 50th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19143
P: 215.726.1106
Storyteller Denise Valentine has been on a journey
to unravel the complicated threads of her family’s history,
examining tales told generation-to-generation, collecting
DNA evidence and written records. Come listen to
Denise recount her adventures looking for her family’s
place in the story of slavery and freedom in Columbia,
South Carolina, home of her paternal ancestors.
This program is presented by Linda Goss
and made possible by Friends of the Artists.
http://www.folkloreproject.org

MAY 18th 5:30 – 8:30PM
FAMILY LITERACY NIGHT
Southeast Delco School District
1560 Delmar Drive, Folcroft, PA  19032
Sharon Hill School

May 19th, 8:00am – 3:00pm
Professional Collaboration at Central High School      Professional Collaboration at Central High School 2015 #CHScollab
2015 #CHScollab
Central High School 1700 W Olney Ave, Philadelphia, PA

Look for Denise Valentine in Session 1 Workshop – 9:00-10:00AM – Historytelling – Beyond the Facts and Figures.    A workshop for students, parents and educators combining archival research, African American oral history and folklore for a performance- centered conception and interpretation of historical events.

Registration is free and open to all School District of Philadelphia educators. Order tickets via Eventbrite.

Denise Valentine, Storyteller - www.denisevalentine.com

Denise Valentine, Storyteller – http://www.denisevalentine.com

MAY 21, 11:00 AM
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Seacrest Studios @ CHOP
34th Street and Civic Center Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104

May 23rd, 2:00 – 2:30PM – Storytelling workshop at Art Sanctuary Philadelphia Literary & Arts Conference, part of

    Art Sanctuary Philadelphia Art Sanctuary’s 31st Annual Celebration of Black Writing Festival May 1 – 31, 2015

Art Sanctuary’s Celebration of Black Writing Festival | May 1 – 31, 2015 | Temple University Ritter Hall & Annex (Cecil B. Moore Avenue at Montgomery Avenue). More than 50 workshops, performances and sessions to choose from, featuring some of the regions most talented authors and artists, INCLUDING a youth track! Follow #CBW31 on Twitter.

May 27, 2015 @ 6:00PM
Great Escapes!
Mill Memorial Library
495 East Main Street
Nanticoke, PA 18634
A Program of The Pennsylvania Humanities Council

June 7, 2015, 7:00 PM 
Reaching for Resonance in Black & White
Two Families, Six Generations in America
Denise Valentine & Bill Mettler:
Master Storytellers Weave Their Craft
A Companion show to My Racial Ignorance,
by artist Bonnie Mettler
on Exhibition at
Historic St. Georges United Methodist Church
235 N. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA  19106
www.historicstgeorges.org

Bonnie MettlerEmmett Till | Selected Artwork by Bonnie Mettler in My Racial Ignorance

JUNE 20th, 2:00 PM
The Story Grove @ 2015 CLEARWATER GREAT RIVER FESTIVAL! 

Great Hudson River Festival

Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival
(aka “the Clearwater Festival”)
Croton Point Park
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520 

(Photo credit Augusto F. Menezes) The Clearwater is the environmental organization founded by Pete Seeger, with the main purpose of cleaning up the Hudson River.

Clearwater’s flagship event, the Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival (aka “the Clearwater Festival”) Saturday, June 20 and 21, on the east bank of the Hudson River, Croton Point Park in Croton-on-Hudson, Westchester County, NY., is a large folk music and storytelling festival held each year on Father’s Day weekend. Several stages, crafts and food vendors, and
the river itself, create a lovely weekend for the
10,000 + attendees to the festival. You can see more details about the festival at www.clearwaterfestival.org/

A Look Back!
In the News!
History and Reconstruction
In a project funded by the
Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, the storyteller collaborated with historian Phillip Seitz and
Reconstruction Inc., a grass-roots group (William Goldsby, chair) that supports returning citizens, youth at risk
and lifetime prisoners,
to ask the question: how can deep knowledge of history
change lives? Click to Read more about what I’ve been up to in the world of storytelling…
Denise Valentine, Storyteller

Denise Valentine, Professional Storyteller, Teaching Artist, Public Speaker, Historical Performer, Consultant

A Look Ahead!

Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project (PhillyMPC)

On June 2, each year, the Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project (PhillyMPC) will honor our ancestors and commemorate the nearly 2 million Africans who perished in the Middle Passage.

 *Ancestral Remembrance Day, June 2nd

​Research identifying all ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade* identifies the Port of Philadelphia on the Delaware River as one of more than 175 Middle Passage ports in 50 nations of North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.PhillyMPC’s mission is to gather support for the application and installation of a historical marker in their memory. Read more … 
Posted in arts and culture, Blackstorytelling, education, humanities, Public History and Memory, storytelling and folklore | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Storytelling: an ancient tradition–its modern uses

 

Where in the world have I been? Telling stories, of course, near and far!

ANANSE SoundSplash 2014 Storytelling Festival & Conference, Jamaica, W.I. 

Ananse SoundSplash 2014, Jamaica, W.I. Image: Ananse SoundSplash 2014, November 19 – 24, Jamaica, W.I. an international contingent of storytellers: Amina Blackwood Meeks, Eintou Pearl Springer (Trinidad), Jan Blake (U.K.), Edgar Ortiz (Costa Rica), Michael Kerins (Scotland), Nomsa Mdlalose (South Africa), Diane Ferlatte, Djeliba Baba, The Storycrafters Jeri Burns and Barry Marshall, and Denise Valentine (U.S.).

Ntukuma, the Storytelling Foundation of Jamaica, chose the theme for Ananse SoundSplash 2014 REDISCOVER, RETELL, RENEW to honor the contributions of Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey in the year of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).  An international contingent of storytellers celebrated the official proclamation of November 20th as Jamaica’s National Storytelling Day (coinciding with Universal Children’s Day) with a week of storytelling events all over the island, including at Louise Bennett Garden Theatre and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Moneague College in Saint Ann Parish, and Montego Bay Community College

Academic presentations focused on the following topics:

  • History as Legends
  • Storytelling and Reparation
  • Storytelling as Philosophy
  • Storyteller: Teacher, Entertainer, Healer
  • Ananse and Cultural Decolonization
  • Social Identity and Storytelling
  • Rediscover, Retell, Renew

 

Adinkra Symbols of West Africa

 

ANANSE NTONTAN

spider’s web, wisdom, creativity

 

 

History and Reconstruction ~  Beginning in fall 2014,  the storyteller collaborated in a project funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, with historian Phillip Seitz, William Goldsby, chair of Reconstruction Inc., and a cohort of ex-offenders to address the question: How can deep knowledge of history change lives? 

Denise introduced concepts of African and African American storytelling traditions. This provides a cultural context which the cohort could use for navigating new or difficult knowledge.  She assisted cohort members in building storytelling skills, tools and techniques needed to infuse their stories with lessons from history when communicating their experiences to the community.

The storyteller seeks to help cohort members :

  • Reclaim their ancestral names and homeland.
  • Reclaim their stories.
  • Reclaim the power and authority to speak; become the “storyholders” for themselves and their communities.
History and Reconstruction

Project Showcase: History and Reconstruction. Project storyteller Denise Valentine (center), psychologist Dr. Thomas Gordon (right), members of the cohort and friends. Photo courtesy of Phillip Seitz. (Public History Commons)

Read more at Public History Commons…

 

mate masie MATE MASIE wisdom, knowledge, prudence. What I hear, I keep.

 

 

Denise Valentine has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Sankofa Research Award (SRA). FOTA assists Folk/Traditional Artists in accomplishing a research project that will enhance their work. This award will support her continuing research in family history, examining tales told generation-to-generation, collecting DNA evidence and written records. In March of 2015, she traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, home of her paternal grandparents, to unravel the complicated threads of her family’s history. Come to WHERE DOES MY STORY BEGIN? at Philadelphia Folklore Project on May 16th, as she recounts her journey to find her family’s place in the story of freedom and slavery in America. This program is presented by Linda Goss and made possible by Friends of the Artists (FOTA).

 

 SANKOFA “Return and get it” Learn from the past.

 

 

What’s up next?

Click here for details on WHERE DOES MY STORY BEGIN? and Upcoming Spring and Summer 2015 Performances!

 

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 Thanks for stopping by! Your comments are welcome!

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Storytelling, History and Reconstruction

Storytelling as a tool to develop Culture, Community & Capacity-Building

I am honored to be the storyteller for History and Reconstruction, a collaborative history project between Phillip Seitz (historian) and Reconstruction, Inc. (William Goldsby, Chair), a grassroots organization for post-incarceration reentry and reintegration.

Alumni ex-offenders, together with historians, a psychologist and a storyteller seek to answer the question: How can deep knowledge and exploration of African American history impact lives?

Reconstruction, Inc. (PcAH)

Members of Reconstruction, Inc. at their 2013 Annual Meeting. Philadelphia. (Image: PCAH)

The purpose of the storytelling component of the project is to craft stories drawn from archival research related to slavery and other traumatic history. Cohort members from Reconstruction, Inc. will hear and discuss historical research revealing numerous acts of resilience, resistance and reciprocity carried out by Africans under this oppressive reality. They will learn to craft new stories by combining historical knowledge with elements of African and African-American folklore, culture, oral history and their personal insights. In the process of crafting and sharing these stories, cohort members will reclaim and strengthen a sense of resilience, self-determination and dignity to utilize as they become leaders, raise families and build community.

The storytelling component has been designed to compliment Reconstruction, Inc.’s capacity-building curriculum. (See Reconstructing Rage: Transformative Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Black Studies & Critical Thinking: Spirituality & Indigenous Thought) by Townsand Price-Spratlen and William Goldsby.)

Reconstructing Rage

Reconstructing Rage: Transformative Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration (Black Studies & Critical Thinking: Spirituality & Indigenous Thought) by Townsand Price-Spratlen and William Goldsby.

Ideally, public storytelling performances at the conclusion of the project will demonstrate the role of expressive cultural arts (traditional and modern) in identity, continuity and the struggle for justice.

This will be a year-long initiative, and is made possible by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. For more information about this project visit the website for Reconstruction, Inc. or grantee and project manager, Phillip Seitz, History for Healing.  

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The Man Who Wouldn’t Stay Dead

Aaron was dead. Only, he refused to accept it. He strolls casually into his funeral, sits next to his widow and says “Looks like somebody dead. Who dead?” His widow says “You dead.”  Aaron replies “Me dead. I don’t feeeeel dead.” Thus, begins the story of Dead Aaron.

I knew I had finally found a scary story I could tell.

There was a time in my storytelling career when I didn’t tell ghost stories, or scary stories. I felt that the spirit world was nothing to mess around with. However, I was presented with two opportunities that made me begin to reconsider. It was time to come to terms with the reasons I didn’t want to tell scary stories. Why did the idea make me so uncomfortable?

Personally, I find Halloween to be a frivolous and materialistic occasion (like most holidays in the U.S.).  But while I still I don’t celebrate it; I decided to accept the challenge and learn to tell ghost stories.  I could explore the historical significance of Halloween and search for stories that resonate with my spirit as well as entertain my audience.

My first spooky assignment was a storyteller on the “Ghost Bus” for Eastern State Penitentiary’s annual haunted house. That turned out to be a fun and interesting, yet, unfulfilling experience.  The historic penitentiary is one of Philadelphia’s coolest and creepiest places, complete with crumbling ceilings, rusty bars that creaked and wild vegetation growing through every crack in the floors and walls. It was a little difficult, though, to reconcile the fact that this attraction was the site of so much misery for its former residents (the presence of which I swear I could feel in the chill air). It was fun working with so many actors and storytellers, most plastered in varying degrees of horror.  Not so much fun: long hours in the cold, wind, rain and even snow; telling pre-scripted stories, ten times fast, using the bus driver’s mic, to die-hard “bet you can’t scare me” fright fanatics.

My second assignment, the Chestnut Hill Ghost Walk, a fundraising event for Teenagers, Inc., was infinitely more rewarding. The setting: Victorian-era mansions and a church graveyard. The audience was made up of adorable trick-or-treaters, from tots to teens, and their grown-ups.  Most importantly, I had the freedom to choose my own tales. And, I scared the crap out of those little kiddies, without resorting to blood and guts. Well, maybe just a little.

I chilled ghost walkers to the bone with a telling of Dead Aaron. I first read the story, a traditional folktale, in the book Raw head, bloody bones : African-American tales of the supernatural, by Mary E Lyons (New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ©1991). Later, I was inspired by a version recorded by my friend, storyteller Glynis Brooks.

Listen to my performance of Dead Aaron!

Denise - Ghost Walk

I had so much fun researching, adapting and telling these stories. I now have a repertoire of scary stories I love to tell, that I call the Witch of Wopsy Mountain & Other Ghostly Lore. It’s a collection of spine-tingling tales from the Deep South, Appalachia, the Caribbean, and even some local haunts.

My favorite scary stories include:

 

They say, Baba Yaga flies in a giant mortar, using a pestle as her rudder.

She lives in a house on dancing chicken legs, with eyeballs for windows.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite ghost stories?

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Ancestral Remembrance Day – June 2 – Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project  

Recorded Ships Postcard Front

Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony

June 2nd, 2014

5:30 – 7;30 PM

On the Pier behind

Independence Seaport Museum

Penn’s Landing

211 South Columbus Blvd & Walnut Street 

Philadelphia, PA 19106

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​Research identifying all ports of entry for Africans during the 350 years of the transatlantic human trade* identifies the Port of Philadelphia on the Delaware River as one of more than 175 middle passage ports in 50 nations of North, Central, and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

In 2013, 2014, and 2015, the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project (MPCPMP) plans to conduct ancestral remembrance ceremonies by geographic regions in all U.S. cities that were middle passage ports.

In support of MPCPMP’s mission, on June 2, each year, the Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project (PhillyMPC) will honor our ancestors and commemorate the nearly 2 million Africans who perished in the Middle Passage.

PhillyMPC’s mission is to gather support for the application and installation of a historical marker in their memory. We celebrate the triumphant survival of the descendants of those Africans, and their contributions to this nation. Finally, we call for healing and hope for future generations.

This process includes compiling and disseminating research on the transatlantic slave trade, as it relates to Philadelphia. We will hold healing and remembrance ceremonies, and other events to encourage discussion, reflection and community initiatives toward reconciliation and repair.

 

Philly Middle Passage Project

Ancestral Remembrance Ceremony
June 2nd, 2014

 

This year, 2014, Libations and a Blessing of the River will be led by Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett, Oni Sango, ordained priest in the Yoruba/Ifa tradition of West Africa.

 

The Delaware River in Philadelphia flows through the American American past and present. It represents the pain of the Great MAAFA; our connection to Ancestral homelands; the triumphant survival of the descendants of those Africans, and our call for healing and hope for future generations.

~Denise Valentine

 

Join us as we Honor Our Ancestors, on June 2, 2014, 5:30 – 7:30 PM with a Remembrance Ceremony including a Blessing of the River, Community performances and expressions.​

 

On the Pier

On the Pier behind Independence Seaport Museum, Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia PA

 

 

Bring your drum, bring your bells, bring flowers or candles, bring your voice, or just bring your spirit to Honor Our Ancestors and Uplift Our Youth.

 

 

 

 

Tides of Freedom

Tides of Freedom – African Presence on the Delaware River, Independence Seaport Museum

*

 

If you haven’t yet seen Tukufu Zuberi’s groundbreaking exhibit Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River  at Independence Seaport Museum, arrive early for admission (fee required) to the museum.

 

 

Please visit PhillyMPC’s website for more information and to make a contribution toward the marker application.

 Sincerely,

 

 

Denise Valentine

Project Coordinator:

The Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project  

https://sites.google.com/site/philadelphiampc/

PhillyMPC Poster 2014

​Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PhillyMiddlePassage

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhiladelphiaMPC

 

 Ashe! Ashe!

See also:

Philadelphia Middle Passage Ceremony & Port Marker Project 

Independence Seaport Museum uncovers treasures of “African Presence on the Delaware River”

Posted in culture and politics, education, history, humanities, Public History and Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment