Boston is more than just the lace-curtain Irish of Beacon Hill or the restaurateurs and shopkeepers of Little Italy or Chinatown. It is also a city steeped in the history, culture, struggles and accomplishments of the African-Americans who helped make it great. February is Black History Month, and here are just five opportunities Bostonians have to learn about and celebrate it.
Boston Children’s Museum
308 Congress St.
Boston, MA 02210
Boston Black is an ongoing exhibit on the history, culture, accomplishments and lifestyle of Boston’s black community. An informative as well as entertaining celebration of the struggles and triumphs of the Afro-American and especially Afro-Caribbean community, the exhibit helps introduce children of other ethnic and cultural backgrounds to Boston’s Black heritage. For children of the black community, however, it is an affirmation of their heritage. It is also a fun way to spend an afternoon, as visitors can decorate a float at a Carnival garage, dance at an African cafe, shop in a Caribbean store and tour a Boston barbershop to see how black hairstyles have evolved over the years.
Freedom Trail Foundation
Boston Common Visitor Information Center
139 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02111
At 12:45 p.m. on every Saturday and Sunday during Black History Month the Freedom Trail Foundation hosts a guided tour of some the key sites in Boston where African-Americans made a contribution to colonial Boston – and to the cause of liberty. Costumed guides talk about the lives and sacrifices of such famous Bostonians of color as Crispus Attucks, Phillis Wheatley, Prince Hall, and Peter Salem, among many others. Tickets for the 90-minute walking tour can be had on line or at the Information Center on the Common.
Museum of African-American History
46 Joy St.
Boston, MA 02114
The Boston campus of the Museum of African-American History encompasses many treasures, among them the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House. The former was the first school in what is now the United States to allow black children into the classroom, and the later is the oldest black church still standing in the nation. Both buildings are on the Black Heritage Trail, details about which are available at the museum or on line. The museum also hosts the “Picturing Frederick Douglas” Exhibit, which chronicles his life and legacy through photographs taken of this inspiring abolitionist and fighter for the rights of Africans in America.
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
The second largest public library in the nation, the Boston Public Library has been a repository for learning, history and culture since 1852. It also takes great pride in its collections of works on African-American history and culture, and novels written by African-American authors. The librarians at the BPL can help point patrons to those and other parts of the library’s collection to help those who wish to learn more about or get in touch with the black experience in America. Many of these works are brought together on display on the annual “Black Is” shelves at the main and satellite libraries.
The Hampshire House
84 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 02108
The Harvard Black Students Alliance will host the Black Legacy Ball, a formal, black tie affair at the historic Hampshire House on Beacon Street. Dine and dance and sing in celebration of Black History Month. Attendance is free, but tickets are limited and are required, along with a valid ID (for those who wish to purchase alcoholic beverages).
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