Written by Robert HightowerThursday, 13 August 2009 22:59 Philadelphia TribuneLocal activists want to have a say in how officials at the Cliveden House educates the public about the history of the estate.After endless digging and research by the members of the Cliveden of the National Trust, papers detailing the trade and ownership of slaves by the house’s owner, Benjamin Chew, were recently discovered.Members of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America sat down with officials from the National Trust earlier this week to craft the best courses of action.After endless digging and research by the members of the Cliveden of the National Trust, papers detailing the trade and ownership of slaves by the house’s owner, Benjamin Chew, were recently discovered.It was found that slavery brought much wealth to the Chews, trading the slaves to and from plantations in Delaware and Maryland . The papers also revealed that slaves were traded for opium in the Far East .Ari S. Merretazon, who serves as the northeast regional representative and national board member of N’COBRA, said he thought the meeting went well.During the meeting, Merretazon suggested a slew of probable methods of getting the stories of the slave to the public to include tracking the family histories of the slaves and instituting documentaries about the Cliveden House.“We wanted to come out of this meeting with an understanding of collaboration,” Merretazon said. “We want to do an educational project that neither organization can do alone. We are going to create something new of how to present the true findings of the family to the public.”Merretazon stated the meeting is just one of many to come.“We are looking forward to the memorandum of understanding which will be in the next 10 days,” he said.The reparations that N’COBRA seeks can come in the form of education, according to Merretazon.“We can do an aspect of repair by educating the public about what happened to us under to the Chew family,” Merretazon said. “We think that will be a new paradigm in communicating to the public.”Merretazon added he, as well as N’COBRA, felt there was a need to accent the complete tale of what occurred at the site located at 6401 Germantown Ave. due to the fact that it has not been well publicized over the years.“Today it’s been like a code of silence. People talk about slavery like it was just an incident, but it was really crimes against humanity,” Merretazon said. “Instead of highlighting the Chew family, we’re going to emphasize the lives of those Africans who were enslaved.”David W. Young, who serves as the Cliveden executive director, said N’COBRA and Cliveden could be a great match.“I was very encouraged. I’m very excited about the prospect of working with the individuals from N’COBRA in providing a prospective that’s needed,” Young said.Young went on to say that the meeting brought many feasible ideas to the table.“It can be incorporated in a lot of dynamic ways. The way I understand N’COBRA’s interest in reparations is making things right. One of the ways to make things right is to provide contacts and an understanding of the historical record. That’s something Cliveden can do in the building, the record of the stories, and how we present them to the public. That’s what a historic site ought to be doing,” Young said.Where the two groups go from here is unclear, but Young mentioned N’COBRA was qualified to help draw up the blueprints for the next phase.“Their prospective will be especially helpful because of the experience that they bring,” Young said.Because of the high number of papers that still have to be discerned,Young said Cliveden has much work yet ahead.“We go deeper into the document to tell more of the stories. We will determine what will be the most engaging stories to tell,” he said.Background media reports:http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/52334792.htmlhttp://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/53018392.html
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