With February school vacation beginning soon, we know many of you will be trying to keep your school-age kids busy for an entire week, maybe while also juggling work and other commitments. That’s why we’ve pulled together a few different ways you can use a break from the normal routine to talk to the kids about Black History Month which runs through the month of February.
There are so many ways to celebrate the achievements of African Americans during Black History Month–from reading books about important people and places, to watching documentaries about the struggle for Civil Rights, to understanding how brands can honor Black history every day of the year.
But did you know there are special places you can visit in our region that will also help you to learn about Southeastern Massachusetts’ place in Black history? During school break, this might be a great time to do a little in-state road trip and talk to the kids about these spots in their own backyards and why we remember them. And if if you don’t have school-age kids, these are still excellent ways to learn more about Black history in our region.
Remembering Black History Month on the South Shore
For an excellent resource, including maps and road trip ideas, first visit the African American Trail Project. Under the leadership of Tufts’ Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, this project maps African American and African-descended public history sites in Southeastern Massachusetts, across greater Boston and throughout New England. Each one would make an educational and interesting way to spend a few hours either during Black History Month or later this spring or summer.
If you want to stay in immediate region, take a ride to the New Bedford Black History Trail and see buildings, plaques, statues, and memorials to important figures or groups in Black history. Included are homes that were instrumental to the Underground Railroad, including the Frederick Douglass Monument which honors this famous Black American who lived in the city with his wife for five years. The Johnson Properties at 17–19 and 21 Seventh Street are the only surviving residence in New Bedford (out of three known) of Frederick Douglass and are now a National Historic Landmark.
As you walk, you can also see the site which once held a large bell that was rung to warn runaway slaves that marshals were coming. For kids who may have learned that slaves were “free” in the north, this is a great way to show them just how far the reach of slavery extended.
Feel like taking a ferry ride? The Black Heritage Trail in Nantucket features 10 stops that provide insight into the heritage of African Americans living on the island in the 18th and 19th century. Finish your self-guided walking tour with a stop at the African Meeting House (advance tickets required due to COVID-19) which was once a church, school for African-American children, and a meeting house for a thriving population of Black Americans on the island.
Martha’s Vineyard also has its own African-American Heritage Trail of Martha’s Vineyard that adventurous tourists can do on their own with good walking shoes and a bus ticket to access all the spots across the island. Guided tours will hopefully be back soon once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Another fascinating story can be found on both the website and at the physical sites profiled in the Paul Cuffe African American and Native American Heritage Trail in Westport, Dartmouth, and New Bedford. The Cuffe Heritage Trail covers 11 landmarks that paint a vivid picture of three related families of color, both of African and Native American heritage.
And, if you’d rather curl up at home? Check out Boston University’s upcoming and on-demand events for Black History Month that you can access from the comfort of your own couch. And save the walking tours for a less-frigid day.
At South Shore Staffing, we are fortunate to work with a diverse and talented pool of job applicants and area employers and are committed to providing opportunity to people of color in our region.