Learn about camp life and the struggle for African inclusion in the Continental Army, General Washington’s involvement with creating an all-African-American regiment at Valley Forge and why he ordered it to be abolished in 1780. The program uses an array of techniques to tell the story in song, activity, demonstration, Q&A or with poetry. The program tells the story of these Black soldiers, free or enslaved, rebel or loyalist, and their hero, “Jack Sisson,” will illuminate their forgotten service at the birth of the nation, the reasons for the war, conditions of camp life, and their equipment.
Joe Becton, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, was introduced to history by his father, a history and social studies teacher in the Philadelphia school system. Becton earned associate degrees in social work and social science from Reading Area Community College, and a bachelor of arts degree in history education from the University of West Florida. He has been a Marine, a park ranger, counselor, teacher and director of visitor services. Presently he is a park ranger supervisor at Independence National Historic Park, and was director of visitor services at Historic Fort Mifflin. Musically, he plays 18th, 19th and 20th century instruments from the electric guitar to the glass harmonica, and leads the Cobalt Blues Band.
Becton is a member of the Association for the Study of African-American History and Life, and the Pennsylvania Historical Society. He is cofounder of the 3rd Regiment United States Colored Troops Civil War reenactors and the First Rhode Island regiment American Revolutionary war reenactors. His research at Valley Forge helped the Delta Sigma Theta construct a monument to Patriots of African Descent in 1993. He and his wife have five children and three grandchildren.