Costumed interpreters bring Black Revolutionary-era stories to life

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — At the Museum of the American Revolution in Old City, you’ll find Edward “Ned” Hector, a Revolutionary-era soldier of African descent who became a respected resident of Plymouth Township in the 1820s.

He is personified by Noah Lewis, one of several costumed history interpreters at the museum, who are bringing to life the diversity that is the foundation of this country.

“By the end of the war, 10% to 25% of Washington’s army would be people of color,” emphasized an outfitted Lewis. “So can you imagine Washington operating without a quarter of his army?”

Lewis and other interpreters are sharing the often untold stories of Black men and women from the Revolutionary era. Hector Street in Conshohocken, for example, was named after Hector — likely the first American street named after a person of African descent.

Autumn Etemadi of Colorado, who visited the museum with her family, enjoyed the African American Interpretive Program.

“It makes it more interesting to learn about it and it makes me want to learn more about history and who started all of this stuff,” she said. “It’s just really cool to learn about.”

The interpreters will be inside and outside the museum through Sept. 6.

Other interpreters-in-residence include:

• Brenda Parker, a historical interpreter who will discuss the innovations of both free and enslaved women who brought traditional African textiles, waxes and soaps to America;

• Not Your Momma’s History founder Cheyney McKnight, who will share stories of Quansheba, a woman who was enslaved and then lived free during the Revolutionary War on the same block where the museum is now located;

• and Kalela Williams, who will portray Helena Harris, an African-American schoolteacher in Revolutionary Philadelphia. Harris taught white children in both England and Philadelphia.