Remembering the slaves of Washington

July 3, 2008 3:48:15 PM PDT
The place where the Liberty Bell now stands is near a site where Africans were held captive as slaves. They belonged to president George Washington.

Tonight, as the country celebrates its independence, Philadelphia is paying tribute to their lives.

President George Washington brought 9 of his 316 slaves to live with him to the original White House in Philadelphia.

The group Avenging the Ancestors Coalition is telling the story of their enslavement in a country built on liberty and freedom.

During last year's archeological dig, slave quarters were discovered in the foundation of the first president's house on 6th and Market.

There was evidence of a tunnel where the slaves traveled through the house so they would not be seen. Today, ATAC is remembering those 9 slaves and all the other enslaved blacks.

"Our goal is to bring their living alive, what they went through and how they represent all of the Africans who were brought to country and not given a penny for what they did," Jeffrey Hart of ATAC said.

Within the next few months, construction of a memorial of the house will begin; it will also include a commemorative installation in memory of the 9 slaves.

"What they're going to do in the process is make sure that the 9 Africans who were enslaved here are remembered throughout the home, and to the show the underground tunnel that they had to walk through; you would be able to walk into the house, with the bay windows and all, and still see where the Africans were held," Hart said.

The memorial is slated to be finished between 2009 and 2010.