PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia trial lawyer and activist is firing off a letter to the New York Times, responding to the harsh words of one of their critics directed at the newly opened President’s House, along Independence Mall.

The President’s House, just a few feet away from the Liberty Bell Center, shows the foundation and outline of the house that President George Washington, along with nine slaves, lived in.

Edward Rothstein, the cultural critic-at-large for the Times, opined that the President’s House distorts history and is an example of a movement toward “identity” exhibitions — in effect, a slave to contemporary politics.

Michael Coard is a founding member of the advocacy group Avenging the Ancestors Coalition. “Rothstein is blinded by racial indifference and cultural insensitivity,” he said.

Coard said George Washington may have been a great patriot, general, and president, but the site asks the question “whether one could be a great human being when you hold others in bondage as slaves.”

Coard maintains it’s not a mishmash exhibit. “There’s only one issue that’s focused on throughout the entire exhibit, and that’s the issue of freedom versus slavery,” Coard said.  “It focuses specifically on an issue that’s essentially been ignored in American history.”

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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