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Broadway Star Buys Home Built By Slaves So That He Can 'Fill It With Love'

Amy Pilkington 28 Jun 2020

How about some feel-good news for today?

Broadway star Robert Hartwell, a Black man, is now the proud and happy owner of a house built by slaves, PEOPLE reported and he couldn't wait to share that fact with social media.

Especially since the very process of purchasing the home showed how racial bias is still very much present in the world.

Hartwell has performed in shows like Hello Dolly! and Motown: the Musical.

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He is also the founder of The Broadway Collective, which provides training to the next generation of Broadway stars by connecting them with actual veterans and preparing them to apply for post-secondary education programs in Musical Theatre.

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They also work very hard to ensure that the Collective's faculty is diverse and inclusive.

Though the novel coronavirus pandemic quashed the opening of his newest project as the director and choreographer of the show Memphis, Hartwell has been keeping busy at home and even spent some time looking for a new home.

Three weeks ago, he found the perfect house for him.

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But it wasn't an obvious choice, since the 1820 home had been built by slaves for the owner of a local cotton mill.

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For many people, that have been a turn off, but not for Hartwell. Nor did he let the seller's immediate assumptions about him, a gay Black man, deter him.

In his Instagram post about the house, he explained that the sale was cash only and the seller had said, "I’m sure that takes you off the table."

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"Don’t you ever underestimate a hard working black man," he notes in his post.

The agent thought it might be too much house for one person, but Hartwell sees it differently.

"I know this house is bigger than me. I wish I could’ve told my ancestors when they were breaking their backs in 1820 to build this house that 200 years later a free gay black man was going to own it and fill it with love and find a way to say their name even when 200 years later they still thought I would be “off the table”. We are building our own tables. I’ve never been prouder to be a black man. Come to my White House any time. I can’t wait to have you! Glory to God in the highest. I’m a homeowner."

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In his Stories, he thanked everyone for their support of his new home and said he's planning to document the renovation.

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He's also begun to hear from his new neighbors, who have been very welcoming and have offered to share their knowledge of the history of the house.

h/t: PEOPLE

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