Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River

darrahIndependence Seaport Museum opened a new exhibition, Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River on Saturday, May 4, 2013. This is the first exhibition in the Seaport Museum's River of Freedom series. Conceived by a committee of leading African-American scholars, and curated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies Tukufu Zuberi, this show explores the concept of freedom through the lens of the African experience along the Delaware. Throughout the exhibition, Zuberi -- a practiced storyteller known for engaging a wide variety of audiences as a scholar, professor, and PBS History Detectives host -will introduce each major section, touching on important themes and crucial artifacts to provide visitors with a dramatic and engaging overview. The exhibition is included with regular Museum admission. 

Tides of Freedom features recently uncovered artifacts from the Museum's collection, gripping first-person accounts and interactive elements, providing visitors with opportunities for discovery and communication. Using four key moments in Philadelphia's history representing the themes of Enslavement, Emancipation, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights, Tides of Freedom urges visitors both to bear witness to a story central to Philadelphia and American history, and to think about the meaning of "freedom" both historically and in today's world. Visitors will have the opportunity to engage in an ongoing discussion via social media at several points in the exhibition.

Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River was featured on 6ABC's Love the Arts segment. Watch the video below:

Wastebook B

Wastebook B is an old, rough book depicting daily activities along the Philadelphia waterfront. A wastebook was a daily diary documenting transactions, meant to be discarded once it was recopied into a more formal ledger. Wastebook B is on display as part of the Tides of Freedom: African Presence of the Delaware River exhibit. Portions of this book can be viewed by clicking the photo of Wastebook B (right). The remainder of Wastebook B will be up shortly.

Understanding Wastebook B

I've known rivers; I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I build my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

--Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers (1920)

More stories

Read the article written by Tukufu Zuberi posted to Huffington Post's The Blog titled, "Our Tides of Freedom." 

Read a story about Captain James Elwood McBride, the area's first black oyster boat captain and owner in the area, recently published on www.nj.com. Clyde Phillips loaned money to Captain James Elwood McBride. Phillips also once owned the boat called Clyde Phillips; now the AJ Meerwald.


Un-naming the Enslaved co-authored by Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier

12 Years to Remember by Tukufu Zuberi and Ellen M. Snyder-Grenier

Happy (100th) Birthday, Local 8! by Tukufu Zuberi and Peter Cole