I just picked up Fodor's Guide to Philadelphia at the library the other day, because it was lying right in my path and I couldn't resist picking it up. Here's part of what it says about Germantown, which is the section of the city where I grew up: "Germantown, about six miles northwest of Center City, has been an integrated, progressive community since thirteen German Quaker and Mennonite families moved here in 1683 and soon welcomed English, French, and other European settlers seeking religious freedom. The area has a tradition of free thinking - the first written protest against slavery came from its residents. Today it houses a wealth of still-occupied and exceptionally well-preserved architectural masterpieces."
I think it was pure genius that Barack Obama gave his famous speech in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love, and site of a tremendous amount of *racial* mixing and also of racial oppression over the centuries. I've mentioned several times before on this blog that Philadelphia was built next to and eventually on top of the old capitol of the Lenape Nation, Shackamaxon, which meant something like Center Hearth of the Hearths, meaning (obviously) the center of the Lenape nation. Then later, Philadelphia became a safe haven for escaping and otherwise freed slaves who were usually people of color. (I stipulate 'usually,' because apparently anyone of a darker coloration was a candidate for enslavement.)
I did love the architecture in Germantown, the cobbled streets, especially Germantown Avenue which followed an old Lenape trail. Many of these trails are still known. From what I've read, William Penn did not wish to restrict his settlement to Quakers only, but still required that settlers be in basic harmony with Quaker values. The Quakers were among the leaders of the early abolitionist movement, and Pennsylvania was one of the first colonies to abolish slavery. Nevertheless, people of African descent were strictly controlled by laws (for example, observing curfews, marriage restrictions, etc) and economic policies (very little opportunity for economic advancement through profession, etc).
A friend recently sent me a very interesting link to an article on the impact of Spanish slavery in the New World on African-Americans. Although Philadelphia is usually associated with the North, it is actually in many ways tied to the South, and it wouldn't surprise me if Spanish influence were not felt in the Delmarva region prior to the oncoming of William Penn. Certainly Moorish motifs were everywhere there. At any rate, for anyone interested in learning more about slavery and in particular about African destinies in the New World, I recommend this article from the National Park Service on Spanish Africans in America.