Black Bookmark Project highlights pioneers less known, but all worth taking a page from
This Black History Month sees the launch of the Cambridge Black Bookmark Project, giving young readers free bookmarks – photos on the front, biographies on the back – introducing more people to a generation of black trailblazers not yet given physical markers around the city.
Remembering Cambridge’s Black veterans:
On May 30, 1897, The Boston Post predicted a Memorial Day like no other. It reported that there were warships in Boston Harbor and an army artillery unit on Boston Common; both would fire their cannon as part of a momentous Memorial Day parade. Five thousand soldiers, including 200 Black Civil War veterans, would parade up Beacon Street for the unveiling of the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.
A story of enslavement; a Juneteenth reflection
This week’s column is written in recognition of Juneteenth, which celebrates June 19, 1865, as the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that all enslaved people were free – two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Brother Blue was Cambridge’s official storyteller
There was a moment in Cambridge history when a one-of-a-kind personality brightened our streets, parks and squares with his loving presence. He was, for that time at the end of the last millennium, a troubadour, a bard whose lyrical musings came wrapped with musical sounds. His simple message was one of love – love of nature, love of life and love of one another. His name was Brother Blue, and he was the official storyteller of Cambridge.
Aaron Molyneaux Hewlett and family prospered as educators, lawyers, activists – and as Othello
This remarkable portrait of Aaron Molyneaux (also spelled Molineaux) Hewlett might puzzle students of U.S. history, for this sophisticated Black man lived in the United States at a time most people who looked like him were enslaved and considered subhuman. Even those who were free were usually limited to a small set of occupations. Hewlett, however, managed to find a way to prosper here in Cambridge.
Suzanne Revaleon Green has tales of May Parties, Magazine Beach and ‘pungs.’ Meet her here first.
Suzanne Revaleon Green’s personal account of “Growing Up on Worcester Street” remembers World War I’s armistice and a time kids would wear metal roller skates, go swimming at Magazine Beach and participate in the lost rituals of May Parties, and when homes with coal stoves got daily deliveries of milk and cream and visits from the ice man, the fish man and the vegetable man. (You’ll also have to read to learn what a “pung” was.) But who is Suzanne Revaleon Green?
How Charles Lenox, Black financier of the 1800s, became a hidden figure in history of Cambridge
“SUDDEN DEATH,” read an item in the Feb. 7, 1852, Boston Evening Transcript. “Charles Lenox, a colored man, and for many years past the porter at Old Harvard, dropped down dead at his residence in Cambridge a few days since. He was about 60 years of age, and leaves to his family a fortune of about $20,000.” At a time Harvard paid its president an annual salary of about $2,500, the size of Lenox’s estate was definitely newsworthy.
Learning the untold stories of Black residents at the Lynn Museum and walking in the steps of historical women with the Cambridge Black History Project
Question: what is one thing, regardless of party, every American President has agreed on since 1976? They’ve all designated February as black history month. To understand why, you must go back another 50 years to 1926.
Gertrude Wright Morgan (1861 – 1931)
Gertrude Wright Morgan grew up experiencing and demonstrating Black excellence from her earliest days. But she also knew first-hand the societal and personal injustice and cruelty White people could inflict on her, her family, and her people. For the rest of her life, she pushed the boundaries drawn tightly around her as a Black person—and especially as a Black woman—working to expose and fight against White supremacist calumny and oppression and to create opportunities for coming generations of African Americans and all women.
Nadine Fortune Wright (1893 – 1994)
Nadine Fortune Wright was born into plenty on August 9, 1893. Her parents, Willis Wright and Mamie Drake Wright, were well-educated teachers. Her Wright grandparents, Thomas and Sarah Fortune Wright, were among the most financially well-off people in Springfield, Illinois, owning farmland in that state and Missouri and substantial property in the center of town.
Adina E. White (1861? – 1930)
Forgotten until renewed interest in Gertrude Wright Morgan led to her rediscovery, Adina E. White was once a well-known figure in Cambridge. An intellectual, an artist, a businesswoman, and a supporter of local charities, she led an unusual life, and we can only regret that, at least so far, we have so little of her story in her own voice.