As we witness the broadest civil rights protests in recent history, the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides stands firm with our city’s Black and Brown residents in their fight for justice, equality and inclusion. We affirm that Black lives matter. Black history matters. Black futures matter.
White privilege has shielded some of us from the harsh and dangerous realities of living while Black. That shield is no excuse to forget or exclude the stories of Black men and women who have called Philadelphia their home. From the Reverend Richard Allen to Marian Anderson, Philadelphia has a rich tapestry of Black heroes, many of whose names and triumphs are often overlooked. As tour guides, we must commit ourselves not only to telling their stories, but to welcoming more Black people into our Association. Black voices matter, too.
We have a duty to our community to make sure that Black voices are heard. For too long, history has been told from the perspective of those in a position of comfort and security. For the millions of Black men and women who suffer from systemic racism and institutionalized violence, comfort and security were never an option. If we are to honor them and move forward, then we must change how we talk about history.
In the words of the Philadelphia civil rights activist Professor Octavius Valentine Catto, “There must come a change which shall force upon this nation that course which Providence seems wisely to be directing for the mutual benefit of all peoples.”
We are deeply indebted to the Black abolitionists, day laborers, warriors and washer women who built this nation on their backs, both freely and in the bonds of slavery. It is time that we acted like it.
We pledge to do better in our programming, our training, our recruitment, and in the implementation of our tours, to tell these stories and effect a change. While the Association has already hosted a panel on African American History and an inclusive lecture series, we must do more to bring the lived experience of Black people to the visitors and tour guides of Philadelphia.
Together, we welcome that change that Professor Catto called for. The time is now.
The 2020 APT Board