Waysides honoring patriots of African descent unveiled in Valley Forge

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Valley Forge National Historical Park and the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. unveiled two trails that highlighted the contributions of soldiers and civilians of African descent to the American Revolution.

On June 18, 2022, the Sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and National Park Service (NPS) staff unveiled two new informational plaques near the Monument to Patriots of African Descent at Valley Forge National Historical Park as part of the annual wreath-laying ceremony on Wayside ceremony at the memorial.

The ceremony included bell ringing, a procession, orators, and a wreath-laying ceremony. Participants laid thirteen wreaths at the memorial to represent the thirteen original states, and a brief history of a particular African-born patriot from that state was read as each wreath was laid.

The new waysides are part of a larger effort by the NPS to give more visibility to the contributions of individuals from many underrepresented groups to the American Revolution. These plaques particularly highlight the Monument to the Patriots of African Descent, the first monument on federal land commemorating patriots of African descent during the Revolution and one of the few in the United States. It is on the edge of the park’s Grand Parade and close to the 1st CampgroundSt Rhode Island Regiment, a storied unit of the Continental Army composed primarily of soldiers of African and Native American descent. The memorial was planned and dedicated in 1993 by the Delta Sigma Theta Patriots Committee of the Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Delta Sigma Theta and NPS staff collaborated to design the themes and layout of the panels, designed to connect visitors to the experiences and contributions of Black patriots during the American Revolution. In addition to the new waysides, a stone terrace and bench were installed to provide visitors with a place to rest and reflect. Both new waysides feature custom artwork by Everette Brown, an African-American digital artist. Proceeds from Valley Forge’s revolutionary 5-mile run went to support the project financially.

The public is invited to learn more about the history and significance of the Patriots of African Descent Monument by visiting the nps.gov website at www.nps.gov/articles/000/monument-to-patriots-of-african-descent.htm.

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