Meet the Revolution
The Museum's Meet the Revolution is an ongoing series of costumed living history programs that explore the voices, viewpoints, and experiences of the diverse people of the Revolutionary era.
Join these costumed living history interpreters throughout the year at the Museum to explore the work of craftspeople of color through hands-on demonstrations, storytelling, and conversations.
Hannah WallaceMarch 12, 18, & 25, 2023
Interpreter Hannah Wallace will unpack the lives of three generations of women from the Forten family, including Charlotte Vandine Forten. Through documents, handling objects, and graphics, Wallace will share stories that connect Charlotte, her daughters Margaretta, Sarah, Louisa, and Harriet, and her granddaughter Charlotte L. Forten, who travelled to South Carolina during the Civil War to teach recently freed people.
Daniel SiehMay 13-14 & 20-21, 2023
As part of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, visitors will meet living historian Daniel Sieh, who will help explore the lives of Asians in the United States in the 18th century. Through documents, activities, and objects, Daniel will unpack how global trade connected the lives of Asian sailors, soldiers, traders, and enslaved people as they navigated American society as strangers from a distant land.
Hugh Goffinet & Marvin-Alonzo GreerJuly 29-30, 2023
Historical interpreters Hugh Goffinet and Marvin Alonzo-Greer will commemorate the 159th anniversary of the Battle of the Crater with costumed interpretation in connection with the Museum's ongoing Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia exhibition. Join them to explore stories about men of African descent who fought to uphold Revolutionary ideals of liberty and equality in the next generation, including a son and grandson of James Forten who served with the United States Colored Troops.
The Museum will again welcom historical interpreter Daryian Kelton, who will present the story of Polydore Redman, a man of African descent who went on to become a drummer in the 5th Pennsylvania (Continental) Battalion. His story began at the dawn of the American Revolution in 1775 when the war was still new and many Americans were advocating for a broad definition of liberty. Visitors will learn about Redman's pursuit of liberty and how it differed from those he served alongside as the war proceeded.
Visitors will meet 18-year-old James Forten at the end of the Revolutionary War as he was about to embark on a journey to London. Forten is interpreted by Nathan Alford-Tate, who also portrays the privateer in the Museum's theatrical performance of Forten's life. Guests will learn about Forten's experience growing up as a free person of African descent in Revolutionary Philadelphia and ask him questions about his wartime experiences.
Living History Youth Summer Institute
The Museum's six-week intensive course for young adults interested in interpreting the lives of people of African ancestry in the Revolutionary era returns for summer 2023.
Living History Youth Summer Institute
In July and August 2023, the Museum will again offer its Living History Youth Summer Institute. This six-week program is an intensive course for young adults interested in interpreting the lives of people of African ancestry in the Revolutionary era and involves guest speakers, research projects, and field study. It prepares participants to explore careers in cultural heritage, museum, and theater fields. Applications are open through March 31, 2023.
Explore More Online
Watch interviews with historical interpreters to learn how they are bringing the voices, viewpoints, and experiences of the diverse people of the Revolutionary era to life with their work.
Meet the Revolution: Noah Lewis
Meet the Revolution: Kalela Williams
Meet the Revolution: Daniel Sieh
Learn more about the costumed living history interpreters who have previously joined the Museum for Meet the Revolution.
Jordan & Kehala Smith
Living history interpreters Kehala Smith (Tuscarora Nation, Turtle Clan) and Jordan Smith (Mohawk, Bear Clan), who shared stories about their culture, costuming, and traditions and engaged guests in conversation about the past, present, and future of their people over Indigenous Peoples Weekend 2022. They also demonstrated and display culturally meaningful objects and materials, including woven baskets, slippery elm bark, and wampum belts.
Ever wonder what life was like in an 18th-century schoolroom? Kalela Williams joined us to discuss the work of Elenore “Helena” Harris, an African American schoolteacher in Revolutionary Philadelphia. Harris had the unique perspective of having taught white children in both England and Philadelphia. With a focus on the children of the Revolution, Williams gave insight into how young people worked and played during times of war and peace. Williams also discussed the work of writer and poet Phillis Wheatley and her lasting impact.
In Summer 2021, Noah Lewis portrayed a Revolutionary soldier of African descent, Edward “Ned” Hector. Museum guests met Hector in the 1820s as a respected resident of Plymouth Township, Pennsylvania, as he fought to gain a pension for service in the war. Lewis also discussed the skills and innovations of African American teamsters as well as everyday life in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
In Summer 2021, historical interpreter Brenda Parker explored the skills and innovations of both free and enslaved women of African descent. Through the exploration of various textiles, Parker discussed block printing, hand-dyeing, mudcloth, and other traditions brought to America from Africa. She also discussed various waxes and soaps as well as soap-making techniques used in the Revolutionary era.
In Summer 2021 and July 2019 at the Museum, Cheyney McKnight, founder of Not Your Momma's History, told stories about Quansheba, a woman of African descent who lived as an enslaved and then free woman on the site of the Museum during the Revolutionary War. She has also discussed African American women’s headwraps and spiritual practices, and she held workshops on African adornments, storytelling, foodways, and medicine.
In May and August 2019 at the Museum, historical interpreter Joel Cook discussed the opportunities that people of African descent had at sea during the Revolutionary War.
In June 2019 at the Museum, Nastassia Parker portrayed Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who ran away from George and Martha Washington’s household in Philadelphia. The 20-minute performance is available to watch online.
The Meet the Revolution Summer Interpreters-in-Residence Program and the Living History Youth Summer Institute are part of the Museum’s African American Interpretive Program Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal.