Across America, February is recognized as Black History Month – an annual celebration of achievements and advancements by African-Americans, and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history. Massachusetts communities honor this historic month in a variety of ways: from art exhibits to musical performances, theater, tours of historic sites, and more.
- African Meeting House tour (Boston) – Discover the Freedom Rising exhibit and hear incredible stories of the brave men, women, and children who paved the way for President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and of the first black troops from the north in the Civil War. It runs Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., through March 31.
- African-American Patriots tour (Boston) – Tales of intrigue and bravery, poetry and defiance by black Bostonians unfold during this 90-minute walking tour offered by the Freedom Trail Foundation. The tour is offered on Saturday and Sunday at 12:45 p.m. during Black History Month.
- Walk On: The Story of Rosa Parks (Roxbury) – February 15 at 1 p.m. and February 16 at 2 p.m.; Hibernian Hall, 184 Dudley Street. “Walk On” tells the story of Rosa Parks from her childhood in rural Alabama to her brave stand against segregation that fueled the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
- Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (Concord) – In commemoration of Black History Month, special guided tours throughout the month of February highlight Alcott’s commitment to antislavery and social justice.
- Underground Railroad exhibit at the House of the Seven Gables (Salem) – There are many connections in Massachusetts that link back to the Underground Railroad. Conductors, abolitionists, and free thinkers risked their lives to help shelter thousands of men, women, and children on their path to freedom. This exhibit runs from February 13 – 28, and is a collaborated account from the few references known to define some of the pieces of this amazing American story.
- Black Heritage Trail (New Bedford) – New Bedford’s history includes a significant role in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. Frederick Douglass, the greatest voice of the anti-slavery movement, escaped slavery and settled here from 1838 to 1843; a monument built in his honor is part of the seven sites on this trail.
- Frederick Douglas Read-A-Thon (New Bedford) – The New Bedford Historical Society presents the 14th Annual Frederick Douglass Community Reading of “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.”
Gallery of African Art (Clinton) – Every Thursday in February, from 7 – 8:30 p.m., the gallery hosts the African Music Series, showcasing musicians specializing in and inspired by traditional African Music. An hour prior to the performances, featured musicians – Yacouba Sissoko, Issa Coulibaly, and Balla Kouyaté of Mali, and Banning Eyre from Rhode Island – discuss their craft and provide demonstrations.
The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum (Adams) – The museum is the former home of the social reformer, Susan B. Anthony, who was an abolitionist and civil rights campaigner during the 19th century. During February, the museum is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday, Friday, and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Private tours are available.
Cape Cod and the Islands
- African-American Heritage Trail (Martha’s Vineyard) – The trail is comprised of 16 sites dedicated to the formerly unrecognized contributions made by people of African descent to the history of the island. Three types of tours are offered, from 90-minutes to a four-hour tour.
- Museum of African-American History (Nantucket) – The museum is dedicated to preserving, conserving, and accurately interpreting the contributions of African-Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century. The museum presents cultural programs and online exhibits on the history of blacks on Nantucket.
How do you plan to celebrate Black History Month? Comment below or tweet us at @MassGov and let us know of your experience.