A groundbreaking new special exhibition, Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, will bring together more than 100 historical artifacts.

They tell the inspiring story of free Black Philadelphian James Forten and his family’s tireless pursuit of liberty and equality from the Revolutionary era through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The exhibition will be on view exclusively at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia from February 11, 2023, through November 26, 2023, and is included with regular Museum admission.

James Forten (1766-1842) was born free in Philadelphia – just a block from where the Museum now stands – and heard the words of the Declaration of Independence read aloud for the first time on July 8, 1776. Of the more than 500,000 people of African descent living in the United States at the time, more than 90 percent were enslaved; James Forten was part of a small, but growing, population of free people of African descent.