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Cornelia Swinson


Johnson House Historic Site Spearheads Annual Juneteenth Street  Fest: Highlights Basement Tour and Historians/Ex-Offenders Mashup


WHO: Johnson House Historic Site, Historic Germantown and 6300 Business Alliance
WHAT: The 6th Annual Juneteenth Street Festival
WHERE: 6300 block of Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
WHEN: SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 2015; 10:00am to 4:00pm


Philadelphia PA The 6th Annual Juneteenth Festival is Philadelphia’s only festival commemorating the passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment that ended slavery in the United States. The festival, hosted by the Johnson House Historic Site, the 6300 Germantown Avenue Business Alliance, and Historic Germantown, will be held along the 6300 block of Germantown Avenue and includes activities for the entire family designed to bring history to life.
In commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, people can join the discussion and learn how ex-offenders and at-risk youth are using history to reconstruct their lives! The History and Reconstruction Project, sponsored by The Pew Center for Heritage and Culture, engaged ex-offenders, professional historians, and at-risk youth in conversation about the history of American race and slavery. It examines the deep historical roots supporting modern structural and situational racism, which marginalizes African Americans and contributes to the mass incarceration crisis:
“Every year we engage the community in a conversation that focuses on a relevant and pressing social issue. This year the panel, Black History Matters, examines history, and the traumatic impact of racism and its relationship to the high-rates of incarceration of African Americans. This is a critical issue facing not only Germantown but the Philadelphia community and the nation. Johnson House Historic Site continues to be a beacon of light for critical social and civic issues. Johnson House has been a safe place and remains a relevant safe heaven for the community to have these discussions.”  
        -Cornelia Swinson, Executive Director, Johnson House Historic Site

The panel discussion about the project will take place at 1:00 p.m. on June 20, 2015 at the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust, 6133 Germantown Avenue.
Panelists include two participants of Reconstruction Inc.’s Alumni Ex-Offenders Association members, Atiba Kwesi and Deion F. Morrison, as well as William Goldsby (Chair, Reconstruction, Inc.), and Phillip Seitz, who co-coordinated the project. Mr. Seitz is author of Slavery in Philadelphia: A History of Resistance, Denial and Wealth (2015).
Distinguished historians who participated in the project include:  Allison Dorsey (Swarthmore College); Steve Hahn (University of Pennsylvania), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and coveted Bancroft History Prize for A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles from Slavery to the Great Migration (Harvard: 2004); Peter Kolchin of the University of Delaware (and also a Bancroft winner), and David Silverman, colonial historian from George Washington University. Psychologist Dr. Thomas A. Gordon, and African American Storyteller Denise Valentine also administered parts of the program.
Visitors can also tour the deepest, darkest corners of the Johnson House basement! Learn about recent structural improvements, funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and see the work of Christopher Keyser, colonial master builder. The hosts will be Joseph McCarthy, AIA and restoration project manager Phillip Seitz. IMPORTANT: bring a flashlight, as the basement can be very dark!
This FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC festival will also feature food trucks, exhibits, children activities, discussions, historical re-enactments, a parade depicting the history of the anti-slavery and abolitionist movements that led to the celebration of freedom today. In addition, there will be, health & resource fair, vendors and live entertainment.  
The event begins at 10:00am at 5109 Germantown Avenue at the State Marker commemorating the site of the writing of First Protest Against Slavery of 1688, the first anti-slavery documents ever printed, at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Wister Streets. From there, a “Freedom Walk” parade will march up Germantown Avenue to the Johnson House to kick off the festivities.


As a National Historic Landmark, Johnson House Historic Site, Inc. is one of the few remaining Underground Railroad Stations in Philadelphia open to the public. Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, the Johnson House was home to three generations of a Quaker family who worked with European Americans and African Americans, freed and enslaved, to abolish slavery and improve living conditions for freed African Americans. Contact: Cornelia Swinson,
The 6300 Germantown Avenue Business Alliance offers retail shops, eateries, small businesses and historic sites in the blocks of 6100-6400 Germantown Avenue all with an enormous amount of historic charm.  The Alliance is committed to helping each other while providing a quality business experience and serving the community.  For information, visit or contact Andre' Alexander, Alliance President at 215-844-3130.
A Partnership of 16 extraordinary Philadelphia houses, destinations and museums, Historic Germantown tells the stories of American Liberty and the everyday people who fought for it, reflecting a neighborhood of independence-seekers, community-builders, and American Dreamers.  For more information, visit
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