Historian, playwright, actor, storyteller. As a Living History performer, storytelling is my roots and vehicle for sharing untapped American history. Ona Judge is one such historical story. When one thinks of our founding fathers- enslavement does not come up into their consciousness. Many citizens seemed to forget that a few of our founding fathers were themselves Slave owners.
“The story of Africans is deeply embedded in the history of America,” slavery was the basis of much of the nation’s wealth. There is always an underside – hidden from sight the more unpleasant or reprehensible side that needs to surface to give an integral portrait of a historical event or person. Ona’s story is one such event. It is still important and should be heard by all. We as a people are taught mathematics, science and American history because it is important. The sixty-minute Living History program is suited for diverse audiences: adults, families, senior citizens, and students, with an Interactive Q&A. The program allows the audience to take part, immerse themselves in the contact and conflicts of the time period making it more socially relevant and realistic.
To Ona’s owners, George and Martha Washington, she was merely “the girl.” She was a criminal until her death because of one decision, the decision that changed her life and American history in our eyes. Oney Judge was an assertive individual who had the courage to claim her own freedom, even if it meant defying the President of the United States.
“If I am not for Myself, who will be for me? This is one of the obscure stories but also true. It is an American story- it is a story that serves to inspire and enrich our understanding of the American past.
"If I am Not for Myself Who Will Be for Me" - During the fall of 1796, George Washington’s final months in office, Ona Judge Staines, an enslaved person, escaped the Executive Mansion in Philadelphia. There is always an underside - hidden from sight the more unpleasant or reprehensible side that needs to surface to give an integral portrait of a historical event or person. Ona's story is one such story. Her voice provides the informative accounts needed to appreciate her struggles, self-determination and triumphs of her life. Her account was not a stereotypical runaway account.