Gov. Rendell joins in...
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Pennsylvania Quakers in 1688 were among the first to register a formal protest against slavery and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, founded in Philadelphia in 1775 continued to advocate against slavery. Despite the fact that Pennsylvania passed legislation against slavery in 1780 with “An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery,” slavery remained in practice in the state well into the 19th century. A growing number of free blacks actively sought equal rights and an end to slavery long before the Civil War began. Their struggle was led by African American leaders, often working with white reformers. As early as the 18th century, Richard Allen of Philadelphia helped found the Free African Society as well as the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination.
The 2008 election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, has been hailed as a triumph of the civil rights movement. Record numbers of African Americans registered and voted in that election and for many Americans, casting a ballot in the 2008 presidential election took on new historical significance. Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement had not anticipated that the election of a black president would be achieved in their lifetime. While the Civil War ended slavery in the United States, it was neither the beginning nor the end of a much longer and bitterly contested struggle over establishing equal rights for African Americansâ€”a struggle that has been extended to include others excluded from full citizenship and participation in American democracy that continues today.