Celebrate African-American History in Downtown Boston
February is Black History Month and there are numerous locations in Downtown Boston with significant importance to the history of the U.S. and African-Americanism. The Freedom Trail Foundation offers an African-American Patriots Tour that tells tales of intrigue and bravery, poetry and defiance by black Bostonians unfold during this 90-minute walking tour of the Freedom Trail. Click here for more info about the tour.
The African Meeting House (46 Joy St.), above, was built in 1806 and is the oldest black church still standing in the country. This historic site hosted speeches by Maria Stewart, Wendell Phillips, Sarah Grimke and Frederick Douglass. The New England Anti-Slavery Society was founded here by William Lloyd Garrison in 1832. It was a recruitment site for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw in 1863. It is now the home of the Museum of African American History.
The Boston Common is the site of the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, above. It is also the site where Massachusetts resident William H. Carney, who was a member of the 54th, became the first African-American patriot to receive a Medal of Honor. During the Battle of Fort Wagner, the color guard was shot, and despite being shot himself, Carney picked up the American flag and later said to his fellow soldiers, "Boys, the old flag never touched the ground!"
The Old Granary Burying Ground (Tremont and Bromfield streets) is the final resting place of famous African-American patriots such as Boston Massacre victim Crispus Attucks and likely, poet Phillis Wheatley.
The Old South Meeting House (310 Washington St.) is where Phillis Wheatley attended religious services with her family, which greatly influenced her life. Wheatley was a precocious learner and was highly educated thanks to her family. She wrote poems about being a Christian and many other subjects and was first published at the age of 13, and, in 1773, she published a book of her poetry "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral." Wheatley was the first African-American, the first American slave and only the third American woman to publish a book of poems. A statue, seen above, of Wheatley commemorating her achievements and contributions was erected in the Old South Meeting House.
Outside of the Old State House (206 Washington St.), above, is the site of the Boston Massacre, where the first bloodshed happened in the American Revolution between the Redcoats and Colonists. Crispus Attucks was an escaped slave and sailor, and the first person killed at the Massacre. Attucks was considered a martyr for the American Revolution and became an inspirational figure to the Abolitionist Movement leading up the Civil War.