black history month | boston stories
After growing up in Chicago and spending a good portion of my adult life in NYC, I was a bit shocked when I moved to Boston. It initially seemed so “monochromatic” compared to the cities where I previously lived. Over time I was thrilled to learn that Boston actually has a diverse community and history. After moving to Beacon Hill and doing a little exploring, I stumbled upon the African Meeting House, the oldest surviving Black church in the United States. It blew me away to learn more about the newly "freed" men and women who settled in Boston after fleeing the South. Much of the city’s important Black history is acknowledged and noted throughout Beacon Hill and Boston today, with intriguing markers and a fascinating trail.
The Black Heritage Trail is a 1.6 mile walking path in Boston that winds through the Beacon Hill neighborhood and features important sites in African-American history. The Black Heritage Trail links more than 15 pre-Civil War structures and historic sites, including the 1806 African-American Meeting House.
In 1783, Massachusetts became the first US state to declare slavery illegal—mostly out of gratitude for participation by Blacks in the American Revolutionary War.
Subsequently, a sizable community developed in Boston comprised of freed Blacks and escaped slaves, who settled on the north face of Beacon Hill and in the North End. With a strong abolitionist community, Boston was long considered a desirable destination for southern Black slaves escaping slavery via the Underground Railroad.