Whose freedom is it?

A revolutionary conversation will take place in Trenton on December 27th from 3 p.m. to 5 pm at the Trenton Public Library, 120 Academy Street, during Patriot’s Week; The conversation will be a celebration of Trenton’s revolutionary role in America’s History.

The open forum discussion invites the public to interpret Trenton and history in a more inclusive way. This conversation is made possible by a $4,000 grant awarded to the Old Mill Hill Society from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and will include students from Sprout U School of the Arts providing an experiential interpretation of Revolutionary War history from an African-American perspective.

“Our goal will be to share stories not typically included in traditional Anglo history through dramatization in a way that is accessible to children but also explores issues of equality and freedom in ways that engage teens and adults. We will encourage conversation/dialogue exploring issues–not lecture,” said Michelle Ruess, Old Mill Hill Society President and one of the event organizers.

Each character the students will reenact will reflect an aspect of the idea of "freedom" with stories selected by participants from "Answering the Cry for Freedom" by Gretchen Woelfle. The book tells the story of 13 individuals who answered the cry for freedom, focusing on the choices they made and how they changed America then and now. The event’s organizers were granted permission from Woelfle and her publisher to adapt her text for this purpose. Event organizers are in discussion with Woelfle to attend the event and to participate in a Q&A session.

Trenton is steeped in history. Throughout the eight-square mile city, you will find symbols that pay homage to Trenton’s role in the American Revolution, such as the Trenton Battle Monument, which commemorates the Battle of Trenton. There is also a 14 foot, 7 ton Italian marbled statue of George Washington located in Mill Hill that shows the first President standing in command at the bow of his Durham boat in 1776, crossing the Delaware River. In spite of Washington’s many accomplishments during his career, the fact that he owned an estimated 123 enslaved people at his Mount Vernon home must also be acknowledged. There are many men and women who have helped to build the United States through their blood, sweat, and tears whose stories have never been told.

"The hypocrisy of a revolution declaring, ‘all men are created equal’ [but] still condoned and aided human enslavement and denied all but white landowners so-called ‘inalienable rights’ cannot be ignored," stated the Old Mill Hill Society in its grant application.

Older visitors will be invited to act as journalists and provided with a "Revolutionary Reporter's Notebooks" with questions visitors can pose to characters, such as: "Why did you fight for King George and not George Washington?" "Why didn't the revolution make everyone free?" "Are we living up to the words 'all men are created equal'?"

Free copies of "Answering the Cry for Freedom" will be provided to each family in attendance and the book will highligt the library's "social justice" collection.

Contact Ruessmcnichol@gmail.com for more information on the upcoming event.

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