This Friday holds a special occasion in our country’s history, one that made an incomparable impact on the United States as a whole. June 19 is Juneteenth, a celebration of the legal abolition of slavery in the United States 155 years ago, and to adhere to social distancing guidelines, a special commemoration by the Museum of the American Revolution will be on the virtual front. Juneteenth was officially declared a holiday in the state of Pennsylvania last year, and for 2020’s celebrations, the MOAR is making all events free and open to the public.
Kicking off the celebrations on Friday is a 20-minute performance of the one-woman theatrical piece “Freedom on the Horizon” with actor and historical interpreter Nastassia Parker. Parker will be portraying Ona Judge, who according to the release, was an enslaved woman who ran away from George and Martha Washington’s household in Philadelphia. Parker also previously joined the Museum in 2019 as part of the Museum’s Meet the Revolution series of living history interpretation and will be returning for this special event taking place on the MOAR’s Facebook page at 9 a.m.
“Visitors were captivated by Nastassia’s powerful performance at the Museum last year, and we are honored to welcome her back for this moving program that is free and accessible to all,” said Dr. Elizabeth Grant, Director of Learning and Engagement in the release. “Nastassia’s portrayal of Ona Judge invites us all to reflect on the paradox of slavery and freedom in our nation’s history and consider its powerful legacy today.”
Once Parker’s performance ends, there will also be an Instagram Live question-and-answer session with her where she will be discussing Ona Judge and her own experiences with her career. Tyler Putman, the Museum’s Manager of Gallery Interpretation will also be joining in on the Q & A as well.
Philadelphians can also check out the story of Harry Washington, who was originally enslaved by George and Martha Washington and found freedom through service in the British army through a virtual discovery cart posted on the MOAR’s Instagram and Facebook page. The cart will feature replica items like those owned or used by Harry Washington for visitors to check out.
In honor of Juneteenth, the Museum’s free weekly lesson plan will also be reflecting the theme and will be focused on Dunmore’s Proclamation, a 1775 document that promised freedom for enslaved people who left their owners and joined the British Army. The lesson plan will be available on the museum’s website on Monday.
There’s much more in store for the celebrations on Friday.
According to the release, Philadelphians can also check out the museum’s recently enhanced, free virtual tour. With the tour, you can explore the galleries anytime to learn the intimate—often unfamiliar—stories of free and enslaved people of African descent during the Revolutionary era. Virtual visitors will learn about Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, an enslaved woman who sued for her freedom and won; London Pleasants, an African American teenager who joined Benedict Arnold’s British American Legion as a trumpeter; and Crispus Attucks, a dockworker of African and Native American descent who was killed during the Boston Massacre and is considered by many historians to be the first casualty of the American Revolution; among many others.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) will also be hosting its own celebration for the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth. The AAMP’s Juneteenth 2020 Virtual Festival: Celebrate the Diaspora will take place this Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature a poetry reading, a conversation with Kamau Ware of Black Gotham, a concert with the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA) and much more. Just like the MOAR’s celebration, this Saturday’s virtual festivities will also be free and open to all. More information is available at aampmuseum.org.
To learn more about the Museum of the American Revolution and their Juneteenth celebrations, visit amrevmuseum.org