Plymouth Comes Out from Under the Rock!!
August 28, 2020
Most people know the story about Plymouth’s colonization, but do they know the full history? Under The Rock sought to inform residents and visitors about the town’s past and the many racially diverse populations who helped build it.
More than 100 people attended a program Thursday at Brewster Garden on racial healing, learning and “good trouble,” a phrase coined by the late civil rights leader John Lewis to encourage people to protest inequality.
Presented by No Place For Hate,Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe,Plymouth Area League of Women Voters andIndivisible Plymouth, the event featured a variety of speakers who talked about the many cultures and racial groups who made Plymouth the community it is today.
Under The Rock was led by Yaxserie Velazquez, a 2019 Plymouth North High School graduate and a member of the Plymouth LWV. She reminded those in attendance that Plymouth’s powerful origin story needs to include all chapters of its past.https://f98d5f77cc6f45092c9dd119b3f67e7f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“We have an incredible opportunity for racial healing and learning at the intersection of history, truth and reconciliation,” she said. “Plymouth is proud to be part of this national conversation and held a peaceful vigil on June 3 followed by a Juneteenth celebration. The Plymouth community is determined to be the positive change as we keep learning and continue to support important conversations about history, diversity and equity.”
Melissa Ferretti, chair of the Herring Pond Wampanoag, spoke in her native language, then translated for the audience. She told how her tribe is a matriarchal society in which women guide the direction of cultural and societal activities among their people.
“As a tribal leader, I think it is important to discuss these issues and I am very committed to public education with the goal of, in the words of the great John Lewis, ‘making good trouble,’” she said. “A bedrock principal of Indigenous societies is to establish good relations with our neighbors. We see this as an important opportunity to share with the public what our principals and values are as a tribal community.”
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Donna Curtin, executive director of Pilgrim Hall Museum, discussed slavery in the Plymouth Colony, an element of the Pilgrim story that is often overlooked in the historical retelling of the early settlement.
“The first step in reckoning with difficult history is to acknowledge it,” she said. “The primary focus of our local history has long been the region’s early English settlement, the later mythologizing of the Pilgrim story and Plymouth Rock, but I’m here to tell you tonight Plymouth has a slave past.”
Other speakers included Karen Phan, a student at Plymouth North High School, the Rev. Lawrence Nunes of the Christian Tabernacle Mission in Rhode Island, Virginia Davis, president of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, David Buckman of Golden Gull Studios, who read a poem for Poet Laureate Stephan Delbos, Trevor Sullivan, a Plymouth North graduate, Alison Rosa, a Plymouth South High School teacher, artist Dan Borelli, Harrison Quinn, a teacher at Plymouth Community Intermediate School, and Annie Yaeger, a Plymouth South student.
The 1 1/2-hour-long program concluded with an impassioned plea by Christina Brown of Indivisible Plymouth for residents to stand up for their rights and protect those of others by doing their civic duty of voting.
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, must fight for the right to vote and exercise our vote in 2020,” she said. “This is the story of our country that must come out from under the rock. We must fight for the right to vote and the right to tell the stories of all of America.”