Explore James Forten’s Life and Legacy with Historian and Author Dr. Julie Winch and Forten Descendant Atwood “Kip” Forten Jacobs, April 12Mar 17, 2023
Discussion and Q+A Will Also Be Livestreamed Online
Event is Part of the Museum’s Popular Read the Revolution Speaker Series
Author and historian Dr. Julie Winch will join the Museum of the American Revolution for a special presentation on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, at 6:30 p.m., reflecting on her groundbreaking biography A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten, more than 20 years after it was first published. The event is part of the Museum’s popular Read the Revolution Speaker Series.
Joining Winch onstage, Atwood “Kip” Forten Jacobs, the great-great-great-great grandson of James Forten, will reflect on how discovering her book — and his own family heritage — changed his life. Winch and Jacobs also will discuss their involvement in the Museum’s special exhibition Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, which includes the Forten family Bible, an heirloom that has been in the family for six generations and that Jacobs has loaned to the Museum for display in the exhibit. The Bible will be on display in Liberty Hall during the event.
The hybrid program will be held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and will be broadcast live via Zoom. Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson will join the conversation to facilitate the discussion between Winch and Jacobs as well as a Q&A with onsite and online audiences.
Winch's magnificent biography...sets the record straight, restoring Forten to the position he achieved for himself in life: a 'gentleman of color' and an American patriot in the front rank of the fight for freedom.The Philadelphia Inquirer
A Gentleman of Color, written by Winch in 2002, is the first full-length scholarly biography of James Forten, a hero of African American history and one of the most remarkable men in 19th-century America. Born into a free Black family in 1766, Forten served as a privateer during the Revolutionary War when he was a teenager. By the early 1800s, he had earned the distinction of being a leading sailmaker in Philadelphia. Forten emerged as a leader of Philadelphia's Black community and was active in a wide range of reform activities. He and his large family dedicated their time, wealth, and talents to the abolition of slavery, and to advance civil rights and educational opportunities for African Americans.
Black Founders will open at 5:30 p.m. for onsite guests. Doors open in Liberty Hall at 6 p.m., where guests can enjoy refreshments at a cash bar and purchase signed copies of the featured book and the 2023 Museum exhibition catalogue for Black Founders, which includes a preface written by Winch.
Onsite tickets for this event include Zoom access and are $20 for general admission and $15 for Museum Members. Online-only tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for Museum members. Tickets can be purchased here. Revolution Society members can attend this event for free and are invited to an exclusive reception with the speakers at 5:30 p.m.
The Museum’s Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively discussions of their work. The series is based on the Museum’s national Read the Revolution bi-monthly e-newsletters, which feature excerpts from thought-provoking books to inspire learning about the American Revolution.
About Dr. Julie Winch
Dr. Julie Winch (Emerita Professor of History) taught at the University of Massachusetts-Boston for 36 years until her retirement in 2021. She received a B.A. in History from Cambridge University, and graduate degrees from London University and Bryn Mawr College. Originally from the U.K., she has lived in the United States since 1977. She has published six books, including A Gentleman of Color: The Life of James Forten (2002), which won the American Historical Association’s Wesley Logan Prize, and Between Slavery and Freedom: Free People of Color in America from Settlement to the Civil War (2014), which was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title.
About Atwood “Kip” Forten Jacobs
Atwood "Kip" Forten Jacobs is the great-great-great-great-grandson of James and Charlotte Vandine Forten. He is the owner of the family's Bible, which has records of the birth and death dates of Forten family members dating back to the early 19th century. The Forten Bible is on loan to the Museum for the 2023 special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. Jacobs was born in West Philadelphia and now lives in Illinois.
About Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
The Museum of the American Revolution’s groundbreaking special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, brings together – for the first time – more than 100 historical artifacts to tell the inspiring story of free Black Philadelphian James Forten and his remarkable family, from the Revolutionary era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Black Founders explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and the abolitionist movement from 1776 to 1876, including their roles in helping to start both the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. During those 100 years, the family also took an active role in defending voting rights and civil liberties for African Americans. The exhibit focuses on three generations of the Forten family, from James Forten and Charlotte Vandine Forten to their children and grandchildren, who supported the Union cause during the American Civil War. The exhibition runs until November 26, 2023, and is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Black Founders is included with regular Museum admission.
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 www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.