The exhibition opens Presidents Day weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The story of George Washington is woven throughout the Museum of the American Revolution in Old City.
But there are stories of other people who helped preserve Washington's legacy, including the tent he used during America's fight for independence. Those stories are at the center of a new exhibition "Witness the Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent."
"These four people are giving us a snapshot of the diverse people that are involved in the story of George Washington's tent," said Curator of Exhibitions Matthew Skic. "The fact that this tent survives is truly remarkable."
Selina Gray, an enslaved woman, saved the tent during the Civil War. It's a story her descendants were proud to share during an interview with Action News on Monday afternoon.
Angela Gillem of Mount Airy, Henry Alvin Gillem Jr. of Ashburn, Va., and Cecelia Torres of Thousand Oaks, Calif., are the great, great-grandchildren of Gray.
"Did you all grow up knowing this story?" asked Action News reporter TaRhonda Thomas in the interview.
"I heard bits and pieces about the history, mainly from my grandmother," said Angela Gillem.
They didn't hear that story echoed in many other places growing up.
"I haven't found any place where she was included in history books," said Henry Alvin Gillem Jr.
Gray was an enslaved woman inside the home of Robert E. Lee who fled the house with his family as Union soldiers approached.
"Mrs. Lee turned around and handed Selina the keys and said, 'You take care of Washington's possessions,'" said Torres.
When United States soldiers pillaged the house, Gray saw to it that Washington's tent was taken to a safe place.
"For me it's a prideful moment," said Henry Alvin Gillem Jr.
"I also have mixed feelings," said Angela Gillem, "because she was enslaved at the time and she really had no choice but to do what her slave owner told her to do."
It's a complicated turn in the journey of Washington's tent and in American history, which is now reflected in the exhibition.
"This is all happening at a time when people are trying to mute our history," said Henry Alvin Gillem Jr.
A history that was once hidden is now on display showing how an enslaved woman helped save an American artifact.
"Her contribution to history is becoming known," said Angela Gillem.
"Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent" opens on Presidents Day weekend at the Museum of the American Revolution. The exhibition is included with general admission. For more information, visit: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/