A Revolutionary-war era church in Boston will be revamping its visitor experiences to account for the influence that slavery has had over the church.
On Tuesday, the National Endowment for the Humanities announced that it would invest $75,000 into changing up its educational experience. This grant is part of a more significant trend of investments made by the NEH nationwide.
"We'll be able to address what I call the paradox of the Old North Church," said Nikki Stewart, executive director of the Old North Foundation, the organization which maintains the site outside of the actual congregation that is present, "People see us as a symbol of liberty and independence, but the reality is that the church benefitted from the enslavement of Africans."
The Old North Church played an integral part in the Revolutionary War, specifically holding the two lanterns delivered by Paul Revere, the rider who helped inspire the American Revolution. However, it also has a history of being built by slaves. For example, former attendees had also served as slavers. The logwood used to create the site was harvested by slaves.
This grant, the Associated Press reports, "will help change the educational experience in three ways: through the narratives the staff tells to visitors; through updated exhibits and interpretive signage; and through new online and digital programming designed for children." Stewart says that they hope these changes will allow Americans to "see their stories in the Old North Church".