Explore the history of Philadelphia’s civil rights movement and the lives of black abolitionists with a visit to our latest document display Awake, Arise, or Be Forever Fallen. From March 5 to March 29, view documents from the Pennsylvania Abolition Society along with materials and images related to activists from Reverend Absalom Jones to Octavius V. Catto.
While Philadelphia was founded in 1681 under the Quaker belief of religious tolerance and personal freedom, most black men, women, and children were enslaved. Black Philadelphians gained freedom through their own efforts and the work of abolitionists, though they remained second-class citizens who lacked legal protections. Regional civil rights leaders were also acutely aware of the struggles of still-enslaved people in the US South.
Awake, Arise, or Be Forever Fallen features letters from W.E.B. Du Bois, the proclamation of Pennsylvania’s Fifteenth Amendment that enshrined the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude," and more.
This display was curated by the Young Friends of HSP.