Reconstructions blog

North Philly Teach-in: Changing the Master Narratives, November 10, 2018, Mount Pleasant Mansion, By Denise Valentine

North Philadelphia has undergone rapid and significant changes over the last 2-1/2 centuries. While facing a history of discriminatory housing policies, strategic decay and displacement, African-Americans have raised families, created community, made their mark and changed the course of history. In recent decades, archival material has been uncovered revealing the lives of Africans enslaved at several Fairmount Park Mansions. What are their stories? If we don't remember them who will? If we don't tell these stories who will? And, who will remember us when we are gone?
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About Reconstructions

How are common histories rewritten?

“Like the crack in the Liberty Bell, or the shackles at the feet of Lady Liberty, the story of our quest for liberty in America is full of paradox, contradiction, and complexity. Liberty may not be perfect, nor need it be, for it is in continually striving for its ideal that liberty is won. In other words, Freedom’s in da’ tryin.”
—Denise Valentine

Rising out of the ashes of damage and neglect, Reconstructions speaks to rewriting personal and historical narratives and reimagining the built environment through the lenses of mass incarceration and displacement. Our communities are held hostage by economic inequality, our neighbors displaced by gentrification, our children taught a history that erases their heritage and trauma, and our families bound by the Carceral State. What do they need, and what can each of us give back? In the midst of our rapidly changing city, what makes a just neighbor?