Tides of Freedom explores the African-American experience

June 30, 2013 5:18:51 AM PDT
Fourth of July is almost here and as the nation prepares to celebrate its independence, Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum is exploring what it means to be free.

It's an exhibit called 'Tides of Freedom' and it looks at the connection between the Delaware River and the African American experience, from the days of slavery and emancipation to the Jim Crow era and Civil Rights movement.

Visitors can step on a block and get a sense of what it was like to be auctioned off or peer through the slats of a slave ship and imagine wearing manacles.

The exhibit was curated by Tukufu Zuberi, a Penn professor of race relations and a star of PBS' History Detectives.

Tukufu Zuberi, Curator of Tides of Freedom said, "We want to talk about this tremendous idea that has transformed the world, which is the notion of freedom and who is free.

There are stories of famous abolitionists like William Still, Frederick Douglas and James Forten, a wealthy sail maker on the Delaware River in the early 1800's.

James Forten was a model of how and where America could go if it would release itself from the limiting ideas that enslavement had imposed on everyone.

There are also stories of incredible courage, Jane Johnson, a slave who escaped her master while docked in Philadelphia, a free city and Lear Green, a slave so desperate for freedom she crammed her body into a tiny box on a steam ship for 18 hours.

"The freedoms we have today were won by individuals who were willing to sacrifice all to give a model for us as to what freedom is about," said Zuberi.

For museum hours and pricing, go to Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum.


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