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Now available to watch online at anytime, WHYY and the Museum present a new documentary, "Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia." Inspired by the Museum's Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia special exhibition, the 28-minute film explores the story of one of Philadelphia’s most influential early African American families. Throughout the film, you will meet Forten descendants, go behind the scenes of how it all came together, and learn the inspiring story of free Black Philadelphian James Forten and his family from the Revolutionary era through the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The Museum's Black Founders special exhibit, open Feb. 11 through Nov. 26, 2023, introduces guests to Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War and the women's suffrage movement. Using objects, documents, and immersive environments, the exhibit explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and abolition and voting rights from 1776 to 1876.

The documentary premiered over Juneteenth weekend in 2023. It was produced as part of WHYY's Movers & Makers series, which introduces viewers to fascinating people and interesting places in the greater Philadelphia region. 

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A father holds his child as they look at the Forten family tree in the Museum's Black Founders exhibit.
 

Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia

February 11 - November 26, 2023
Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia explored the story of James Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to later become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War.
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A family views the Forten family tree and family bible in the Museum's Black Founders exhibit.
 
Black Founders

Forten Family Heirlooms on Loan from Descendants in Black Founders Exhibit

Learn more about the rare surviving objects on loan from Forten family descendants that are on display in our special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia.
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Meet James Forten cover image featuring actor Nathan Alford-Tate.
 

"Meet James Forten" Performance

Watch the Museum's first-person theatrical performance about James Forten’s early life, written by local playwright Marissa Kennedy and performed by actor Nathan Alford-Tate.
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