The Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust (DFCLT), in partnership with the Museum of the American Revolution (MoAR) in Philadelphia, presented their Fifth Annual Lonaé A. Moore Forum, “It Begins with Each of Us: Fostering Racial Understanding,” on February 12, 2022. The forum was a hybrid, with guests attending in-person at the museum and virtually, from France to California. The theme of this year’s forum, “Connecting the Dots Between 1776 and the Present,” traced the complicated history of race in the United States from the founding of the Republic until today. In her opening remarks, delivered virtually, DFCLT President & CEO, Denise Dennis said, “The best antidote for ending the disease of racism is the light of truth,” and emphasized the importance of sharing the truth, in spite of obstacles.
In their fascinating, revelatory presentations, panelists Jennifer Janofsky, Ph.D., Giordano Fellow in Public History at Rowan University and curator of the Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, in New Jersey and Michael Idriss, the African American Interpretive Fellow at MoAR, addressed the forum theme. Dr. Janofsky discussed a long-hidden fact in American History that African American soldiers fought in the Battle of Red Bank, NJ, during the Revolutionary War. She is largely responsible for researching African Americans’ service in the battle and making sure that it is now shared and acknowledged through instructive signage at the Battlefield site, after having been ignored, overlooked or forgotten for centuries. Interpretive Fellow, Michael Idriss, recounted the role that free African Americans in Philadelphia played in the nascent years of the American Republic, including successful businessman Thomas Forten, as they used their success to forge alliances that could lead to freedom for all African Americans.
Adrienne Whaley, Director of Education and Community Engagement at MoAR, was the panel moderator and led the Q&A discussion following the presentations. The response from the diverse, intergenerational, in-person and virtual attendees was robust. With more and more threats to teaching American History honestly in our schools throughout the United States, the forum struck a chord with the attendees, especially educators. This made our 2022 Forum, “Connecting the Dots Between 1776 and the Present,” even more significant.