Do you remember where or when you fell in love with your passion? I remember vividly. I was in the fifth grade on a class field trip to Philadelphia. My school decided to take us on a day trip to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. On that field trip, I fell in love with history and became obsessed with learning more about life in the past.
Eighteen years later, I revisited the place where I fell in love with history.
Eighteen years later, I walked away from Independence Hall shocked, disappointed, and unbothered.
Shall we ride this emotional roller coaster together?
As a tiny fifth grader, I remember Independence Hall as a huge and in charge building. Eighteen years later, that is not the case. It is a very quaint building.
The tour lasted for maybe 30 minutes. It was a short and brief synopsis of American history. There is way too much history in this quaint building for only a 20ish minute tour. Twenty minutes is enough time to hit major points in history with the right material. By the end of the guide's speech, I was disappointed. ..
As I stated, the tour was about 20ish minutes. The guide did a great job mentioning the primary prominent founders and role players we all learn about in school. I hoped the tour would be inclusive and highlight a narrative that includes all players, but it did not. I was not expecting a simplified narrative of the building, especially with the recent pivotal moments we've had in society. I hoped the guide would speak on the relationship between race, freedom, and equality.
I wanted to listen to stories that told the struggle for liberty and equality which happened in and around Independence Hall. I was shocked that Frederick Douglas's name was not mentioned once. His speech on enlisting African American soldiers was held July 6, 1863, right inside the Hall. I could go on and on about other historical accounts that can help create a diverse and inclusive narrative, but you get my point.
The image above is where a person would stand trial for his/her crimes or sentencing. I was hoping to hear about the many fugitive slave hearings that took place on the second floor of Independence Hall or recognition of the many conversations about the complicated relationship between slavery and freedom. Instead, I heard about the "heroes" of American History. Independence Hall and Philadelphia are more than The Declaration of Independence, and there is more to American History than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The fifth-grader in me could not help but feel giddy as she did in 2003. I was excited to revisit the place that conjured the history buff inside of me. I also googled different history tours in the Philadelphia area. I learned that organizations such as The Black Journey Philadelphia Walking Tour are doing the work that needs to be done. They are providing tours that tell an inclusive story. Visitors on this tour will learn history beyond the revolutionary war and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
So, I ended my tour with an unbothered mindset. Marginalized individuals are taking control of their history and I'm loving it all! Plus, it was still cool to walk around a colonial building. The architecture is so dreamy.
Revisiting childhood trips and vacations is something I recommend. Venturing back to these places with new found knowledge of self and the world, creates an enlightening experience.
Leave a comment