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2013 Avenging The Ancestors Coalition's Watch Night Freedom Eve

The Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC) held their sixth annual Watch Night Freedom Eve on December 31, 2013 at the historic UNIA-ACL building at 16th and Cecil B. Moore Avenue in North Philadelphia. The event was designed to inform and educate people of African descent about the real reason our enslaved ancestors held Freedom Eve Watch Night vigils. Michael Coard the chief spokesperson for ATAC informed the audience the original Watch Night service was started in Europe by Moravian Christians in 1733. Coard also explained the origins of the Colonial American Watch Night service which was started by John Wesley in 1770.
But these were different from what Africans in bondage did on January 1, 1863. Those Africans in America were anxiously awaiting the rumored announcement of their freedom. They gathered around 7 PM to wait for word they had been liberated by what turned out to be Abraham Lincoln’s bogus Emancipation Proclamation which actually freed no slaves whatsoever.
The Avenging The Ancestors Coalition is a grass roots organization that was formed in 2002 as the result of a massive protest against the building of a proposed Liberty Bell Center at 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia on the site of the Robert Morris House. The Morris House served as the first presidential residence. George Washington lived there during his first term as president. Eventually ATAC forced the US government to recognize then build a monument to the nine enslaved Africans Washington brought to Philadelphia from his plantation in Virginia to serve him in Philadelphia as the first President of the United States.
ATAC galvanized enough support to force the government to erect a $12 million dollar multi-media monument at 6th and Market Streets that tells the story of slavery in the US. Not only did ATAC negotiate for the monument they demanded African-Americans be part of the architectural design and construction of the project. ATAC was able to gain support for the project from a cross section of politicians, clergy and community activists to get the project completed. Since then, ATAC has been active in numerous educational and community outreach projects.

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