At the end of the school year ML and John went to Mount Vernon with her 4th grade class. John led a group of five girls all from international backgrounds including India, Senegal, Canada, Germany and ML who was born and raised in the house she lives located in the Shaw neighborhood of DC. As they went through the many displays and exhibits they began to take turns reading the kiosks out loud. What struck them were the names of slaves who were owned by George Washington (Charlotte, Jupiter, Matilda…). The girls decided to collect the names of all the slaves they could find, interested in why this home would be billed as solely the home of George Washington when so many talented artisans and craftspeople lived and worked there.

They walked around all day with a pen frantically jotting names on scraps of guide maps and pieces of trash. Later they entered the Orientation Center only to find that Mount Vernon had a small wall dedicated to the slaves of Mount Vernon and on that wall were the names of all known forced to serve President Washington.

Well the girls knew that ML's parents were both chefs and became very animated when they discovered that GW had a master chef from Philadelphia named Hercules. Evidently Hercules was so important that there was an oil painting made of him. We look forward to spending time this summer learning more about Hercules and the many enslaved artisans, technicians and laborers who built the US and contributed more than we could ever imagine...