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Image 052224 Juneteenth Deborahvid
Actress Taylor J. Mitchell portraying Deborah at the Museum of the American Revolution in 2023.

First-Person Theatrical Performances, Onsite and Online, Showcase the Lives and Decisions of 18th-Century African Americans and People of African Descent

Celebrate Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the legal abolition of slavery in the United States, with the Museum of the American Revolution on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Juneteenth, which was declared a state holiday in Pennsylvania in 2019, commemorates the day in 1865 when the abolition of slavery reached the deepest parts of the former Confederacy in Texas.

In the Museum’s galleries and through special virtual offerings—including in-gallery talks and highlights tours, discovery carts, and first-person theatrical performances — the Museum will delve into the lesser-known stories of Black men and women of the Revolutionary era such as Elizabeth Freeman, Phillis Wheatley, and Harry Washington, as well as highlight the people of African descent who played roles in the history and preservation of George Washington’s war tent.

Derived from its award-winning in-gallery and digital interactive, the Museum will debut its “Finding Freedom: Deborah’s Choice” video at on June 19. The video, featuring a first-person theatrical performance by actor Taylor J. Mitchell and written by playwright Ang Bey, places Deborah in a pivotal moment where she must decide whether to leave her family and community behind to seek her freedom or to remain enslaved and risk not reaching for the dreams she has for herself. Deborah’s story is based on that of a real person – a 16-year-old who was enslaved at George Washington’s Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, but chose to leave on a British ship when prompted by soldiers during the Revolutionary War. It, as well as the others told in Finding Freedom, draws on primary and secondary source research and engages in imaginative speculation to try to understand the lives and decisions of five real people of African descent living in Virginia in 1781.

“Our goal was to make her story relatable to young people and to help them understand that the decision to become a freedom-seeker wasn't necessarily an easy one,” said Adrienne Whaley, the Museum’s Director of Education and Community Engagement, who produced the video alongside other Museum staff. “In bringing this story to life through theater, we hope to help people see Deborah - and through her, the many other children and adults who experienced enslavement - as real people who faced decisions that were more complex than we might first imagine."

“Finding Freedom: Deborah’s Choice” was made possible due to generous funding provided by Gabriela Aragon and the Pennsylvania State Society Children of the American Revolution.

Other Juneteenth highlights include:

“Meet Elizabeth Freeman” Performances | 1:15 and 3:15 p.m. on June 19

Starring Katelyn Appiah-Kubi, this first-person theatrical performance tells the story of Freeman, a Massachusetts woman who used the words of the new state constitution to sue for her freedom. In 1781, she won her case, helping set a precedent that led to the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts. “Meet Elizabeth Freeman” was written by Teresa Miller for the Museum of the American Revolution as part of the Museum's 2020-21 past special exhibition, When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807.

Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent | 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Our newest special exhibition Witness to Revolution greatly expands the story told in the Museum’s award-winning Washington's War Tent film and brings to life the stories of individuals from all walks of life who saved George Washington’s tent from being lost over the generations and who ultimately fashioned this relic into a symbol of the fragile American republic. At a 10-minute, in-gallery talk, learn about the stories of people of African descent, like William Lee, Hannah Archer Till, and Selina Gray, who have been part of the tent's journey. Witness to Revolution is open daily through November 5, 2024, and is included with regular Museum admission.

Black Voices of the Revolution Gallery Tour | 12 p.m.

Join a Museum educator in our core galleries for our 60-minute Black Voices of the Revolution gallery highlights tour about people of African descent during the American Revolution. Tours and ticketing options can be found here.

Pop-Up Talks: Phillis Wheatley | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Join a Museum educator at an original, signed copy of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, written by Phillis Wheatley, the first published Black female poet in the Western world. Discover the story of Wheatley’s life and consider the lasting legacy of her poetry.

Revolution Place Discovery Center | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Museum’s family-friendly discovery center, Revolution Place, will be open daily kids and kids at heart to explore an immersive environment inspired by the Museum’s lively, diverse Old City neighborhood during the 1700s. Don’t miss themed crafts and activities, including making your own cap inspired by those worn by the Rhode Island Regiment, which consisted primarily of Black and Native American troops.

Discovery Cart: Harry Washington | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Explore replica objects related to the life of Harry Washington, who was enslaved by the Washingtons but found freedom through service in the British army after hearing of Dunmore’s Proclamation.

Tickets for Black Voices of the Revolution gallery tours can be purchased here. All other Juneteenth activities are included with regular Museum admission. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Witness to Revolution is open from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is included with regular Museum admission. Tickets to the Museum can be purchased by calling 215.253.6731, at, or at the front desk. Save $2 per adult ticket by purchasing online. Children ages 5 and under are always free. All tickets are valid for two consecutive days.

Juneteenth at the Museum is sponsored by Bank of America.

About Museum of the American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality, and self-government. Through the Museum’s unmatched collection, immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and interactive elements, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in ensuring that the promise of the American Revolution endures. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit or call 877.740.1776.