Growing up in Philadelphia, I was fortunate to go on many school field trips in the city. These history expeditions always sparked my imagination, and I was hungry to learn everything about our founding fathers and their families, as they toiled to create the world’s first true democracy. I longed to get inside their lives and heads. As a young boy, I was excited by the awareness that George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams, and James and Dolly Madison had walked in the same Philadelphia streets that I did.
I loved visiting the house of my hero Benjamin Franklin, utterly fascinated by his cunning inventions. But my favorite place was Betsy Ross’s home. I would envision her sitting by the wood stove passionately and steadily sewing the first American flag by candlelight. I felt like I could truly touch history.
As I got older, I sadly learned that while our founders were espousing the values of liberty and freedom, they were simultaneously wielding their power to protect and ensure the systematic subjugation of their slaves, women, and native Americans — leaving us a horrid legacy of systematic injustice that ripples forward today.