Camp William Penn and Historic La Mott Day
history, Hosted By Citizens for the Restoration of Historic La Mott
Took place on Saturday, September 23rd, 2023 @ 10:00am
Camp William Penn Gates
7320 Sycamore Avenue, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 19027
On September 23rd, Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott will be hosting their annual Camp William Penn and Historic La Mott Day in historic La Mott. The day will honor the United States Colored Troops (USCT) who trained at Camp William Penn and the history of the La Mott area. This year marks the 160th anniversary of the camp opening, in 1863. Camp William Penn was the first and largest federal training ground for black soldiers during the Civil War. 11 regiments trained there, many of which went on to perform meritorious deeds in service. Several regiments took part in the pursuit of General Lee, and others helped escort President Abraham Lincoln’s coffin through Philadelphia. Soldiers who trained at the camp brought the announcement of emancipation to the emancipated slaves in Galveston, Texas, an event which led to the holiday of Juneteenth. “Without the efforts of these soldiers, we could very well have been two countries and not one.” Joyce Werkman, president of the Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott, said. The community of La Mott, which the day also honors, has a very storied history. La Mott, originally named Camptown for Camp William Penn, was renamed for the famous abolitionist and women’s rights activist Lucretia Mott. The area was an early integrated suburb, with its first black citizens purchasing land in 1879. La Mott has been home to many famous activists and leaders, such as Aubrey Bowser, who wrote and edited The Rainbow, and Wallace Triplett, who played football for Penn State and was the first black man to be drafted into the National Football League. “I hope it brings to the community a chance to revel in really the importance, the historical importance of the neighborhood in which they live.” Jim Paradis, a member of Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott’s board, said about the event. “We also hope to bring people from outside to the community to learn about what was probably right in their neighborhood, that they might not have known about.” The opening ceremony for the event will be at 10am, at the Camp William Penn gates. Throughout the day, Camp William Penn Museum will be open for tours. The event will host tables from community organizations, authors with books related to Camp WIlliam Penn or the area, organizations that were influential during the period Camp William Penn was active, and local archives. A keynote speaker, to be selected, will present a speech about the camp, its effect on national history, and why we remember. Werkman hopes the event will “call attention to the achievements of these soldiers, their bravery, and their contribution to the outcome of the war”. Camp William Penn museum, which is run by the Citizens for the Restoration of Historical La Mott, is currently open by appointment and will be throughout the summer. To make an appointment, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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