Report on the Cliveden Scholar Project
Cliveden Conversations – with Storyteller, Denise Valentine
Aug 9, 2012, 7 – 9pm
With funding from the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership (PAEP), storyteller Denise Valentine worked with Lankenau Magnet High School students on the “Cliveden Scholar Project.” The purpose of the project was to help the students develop new narratives from archival materials documenting the lives of the Chew family, their servants, and the Africans they held enslaved.
Cliveden, the Germantown estate of Pennsylvania Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, is widely-known as the site of the Battle of Germantown in the War for Independence. However, documents uncovered there in recent decades show that hundreds of Africans were enslaved on Chew family plantations in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. These documents also reveal numerous acts of resilience, resistance and reciprocity carried out by Africans to throw off this repressive reality.
History cannot be rewritten; what is done is done. But we can rethink history in this new light, and we can retell it-through the voices of the past, and through the voices of today’s youth. Storytelling can help young people evaluate history in a way that is relevant to the challenges they face going forward.
The “Cliveden Scholar Project,” which included a field trip to Cliveden, engaged students in research, discussion, story writing and telling. Students learned to critically analyze historical and contemporary events by placing the institution of slavery in geographic, chronologic, economic and social context. By examining the complex roles of individuals in history, students strengthened their own sense of social and civic consciousness. Finally, students were reconnected with traditional cultural values by drawing on African and African American folklore and oral history.
Ms. Valentine will share some of the stories developed by her students, as well as ideas for future programming, in a performance lecture and slide presentation at Cliveden on August 9th. Her interactive performance combines historical narrative with call-and-response,folktales and hand-clap games, demonstrating the role of expressive cultural arts in the struggle for identity, continuity, and liberation.
For more information visit Cliveden of the National Trust: http://www.Cliveden.org
or, call 215-848-1777