Belle has been selected as one of three finalist chose to develop a monument to an enslaved woman known as Dinah at the historic house museum Stenton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Stenton has primarily interpreted the life of James Logan, Secretary to William Penn. The museum recently accepted the gift of a cast bronze memorial to Logan. Although a Quaker, Logan was also a slaveholder, placing the monument squarely in the current national debate about the validity of public images deemed racist, insensitive or inappropriate.
Stenton also stewards a memorial plaque to Dinah, a once-enslaved woman who was brought to the site as part of a dowry c.1753. An oral tradition recounts Dinah’s role in saving Stenton from burning by the British in November 1777. The plaque memorializes this story of Dinah and although it uses language that is anachronistic today, the plaque is extraordinary in that it is one of the earliest and few memorials to an enslaved African American woman. In the mid-20th century, the plaque was removed by the city and languished in Stenton’s cellar.
Dinah’s neglected plaque and the arrival of the Logan memorial present a unique opportunity for Stenton to address a crucial issue at the heart of the debate over monuments, the absence of memorials to the millions of Africans and African Americans who lived as slaves and whose contributions to our country’s history remain ignored in many public spaces.
To read more about this project see here.