Position Paper of Avenging the Ancestors Coalition (ATAC)

Membership and Purpose

Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) is a broad-based organization of African American historians, attorneys, elected officials, religious leaders, media personalities, community activists, and registered voters. ATAC was founded in 2002 to compel the National Park Service (NPS) and Independence National Historical Park (INHP) to finally agree to the creation of a prominent Slavery Memorial to conspicuously permeate the President’s House project. The purpose of this Slavery Memorial is to honor primarily the nine African descendants enslaved by President George Washington at the President’s House, which is also known as America’s first “White House” and which was located at the current site of the new Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia at Sixth and Market Streets. Those nine were among the 316 Black men, women, and children enslaved by Washington at his Mt. Vernon, Virginia plantation.

Strategic Activism

After years of letter-writing campaigns, petition drives, demonstrations, public forums, press conferences, and negotiations, ATAC was victorious in persuading the NPS and INHP to finally concede to the creation of the absolutely historic Slavery Memorial, now called the President’s House/Slavery Memorial project.

Also, ATAC provided voluminous documentation to city, state, and federal officials who, along with private contributors, provided complete funding for this approximately $12 million project. It should be noted that it was former Mayor John F. Street who was the first official to begin funding the project and who created the project’s ongoing steering arm, namely the Mayor’s Oversight Committee. And it is now Mayor Michael Nutter who has expanded and enhanced the project.

Furthermore, ATAC successfully demanded that “today’s free Black sons and daughters” of “yesterday’s enslaved Black fathers and mothers” play a leading and substantive role in designing, building, scripting, and maintaining the project.


ATAC requires this Slavery Memorial because justice demands it. Justice demands it because ATAC’s ancestors, as forced laborers for 246 years from 1619-1865, transformed America into the economic world power that it remains today, because ATAC’s ancestors died for America in all of its wars, and because ATAC’s ancestors had their freedom, culture, family, language, land, religion, name, and often their sanity, limbs, and even lives ruthlessly stripped from them for nearly three centuries by America (and other European-initiated slave trading countries) in a manner unlike anything ever experienced in the history of humankind. ATAC also requires it because it an essential step toward telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about American history.

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Also read: Our Decision to Use the Word "Avenging"