Thursday, July 7, 2016

Making Space For What Matters

To start the class off today, the professor once again talked about the history of Phillly but this time after the small briefing, a guest speaker came by and talked about something she spent great deal of time researching. Erica Armstrong Dunbar talked to us about a runaway slave named Ona Judge. Ona was a personal slave of Martha Washington, George Washington’s wife, who had run away to be free. She ran away to New Hampshire and began a normal life. She married, had kids, got a job, in all senses she was free. George Washington even before this approved a bill that said that in order to retrieve a slave, the owner had to bring them to court and have two witnesses that that was their slave. George Washington however did not go through that process. He called his inner circle of friends and asked them to bring Ona back. They couldn’t find her but when they did she refused to go back unless Washington freed her.  This went on until George Washington passed away as well as his wife. Erica has spent a lot of time getting this story together through many primary sources like letter from Washington to his friends and even Ona who gave a testimony when she was n elderly person. This story brought up how individuals stories get erased when we look at history as a big but we don’t zoom in to  learn more about how great heroes like Washington might be flawed as well as the government policies. Dunbar is publishing a book about Ona’s story and it’s coming out in 2017. After the amazing lecture we went to get lunch.

The church Allen opened
Allen's Tomb
After lunch we got into small groups. Today’s topic of discussion is whether or not the Declaration of Independence was a social justice document. Many said that it wasn’t on the basis that it catered to only white, landowning men. Someone made a remark that if this is the case, does that mean the “Black Lives Matter” movement is not for social justice as it only caters to a specific race. I personally thought that it was a social justice document because even if it was only catering to one specific group, they were still trying to fight for their rights and be free from the oppression of Britain. This gave us some food for thought leading off into our next topic, Richard Allen. Richard Allen was the founder the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This church was a form of moving forth the progression of African- American rights and he used the Declaration of Independence to help his cause. Allen took the Declaration of Independence and the fact that “all men were created equal” to optimize his agency(his will to act or pursue something) and help his fellow community have a voice when they never had before.

The worship house
Glass window with all the churches
Once everyone had gotten a sense of who Richard Allen was, we all got together so that as a group we could visit the church which he created. The church had many things that were used by him like bibles, pews and a few depictions of him. We got to explore the church and even got to sew some of his portraits and even his tomb. Mother Bethel(the name of the church) is actually the 3rd church they build i in that spot. The first one was small and was a blacksmith spot, This building eventually got too small so they knocked it down and build a bigger place. This place too became small so they once again knocked it down and built the current building. When Allen died, his only request was to be buried underneath the church. To this day he is still there looking over his church along with his wife that was buried when him when she passed away.

This small field trip concluded class for the day so we went back university and we were free for the rest of the day. On my way to the dorms I got a lemonade from Starbucks. But before I could rest in my dorm, I needed to sign up for activities since they always get full very quickly.. Luckily Therese was already in line, so I just went to her to sign up quicker.Therese and I both signed up for ice skating on Sunday afternoon. When this was done, Therese, Helen, and I went to go get some Chinese food which Helen told us was not like the Chinese food back home.

Artsy tattoos 
We headed back to the dorms for a meeting with the RC where they talked about what was happening this week around the dorms and about what movie we were going to go see on Friday; we had six choices and I picked The Legend of Tarzan in 3D. Once that was settled, Therese and I went to get tattoos (temporary tattoos, that is). I got hearts that I put on my wrist. With us all tatted up now, Therese quickly went to her dorm to grab a few things before her and I went to Starbucks yet again. We got our drinks and sat down there to talk about various things like school life. She actually goes to an all-girl, catholic school. Her schedule is very confusing but she says that the quality of the education is very good. We continued talking and I guess we lost track of time as the library was closing so we had to leave because the Starbucks was inside of the library. We still wanted to talk so I went to her dorm where we continued the conversation.

We talked about our backgrounds and I got to know her very well. We even got to talk about our hometowns and how social justice relates to it. I was having a great time talking with her but it had to come to an end as it was almost curfew for us and I need to head back to my room. I really liked today’s lecture about Ona and how it might reflect the stories of other runaway slaves or even slaves that bought their freedom like Richard Allen.

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