4    Feb 20112 comments

Celebrating Black History Month: Historical Hotspots in Boston

February is Black History Month, so here on the MyHeritage.com blog we're spotlighting historical hotspots in Boston – a city rich in African American History. Visiting these sites and tracing the steps of your distant relatives is a fun and meaningful way to connect to your family's heritage.

The Museum of African American History is the perfect place to embark on a journey back to colonial times to trace African American history in New England. On exhibit through December 2011 is Treasures from the Collections – a retrospective of African American life in Boston. Documents on display include a 1834 city record for Boston's "African Schoolhouse," a 1848 bill of sale for an enslaved man, Edward Home, as well as narratives published by Frederick Douglas.

African Americans have a long and rich history in Massachusetts. In 1638 (only eight years after Boston was founded) the first Africans – purchased in Providence Isle, a Puritan colony off the coast of Central America – were brought to the town. By 1705, with 400 slaves living in the city, a free community started to form in the North End. And it wasn't long before this all-free black community began to tackle the major issues – housing, institution building, education, and above all, abolishing slavery in the rest of the nation. The Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston is the place where these crucial issues were deliberated and realized.

The Museum of African American History is a great starting point for the The Black Heritage Trail, a walking tour that highlights historic figures and monuments. The first site, the Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Regiment Memorial, is a memorial to the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, which was the first black regiment to be recruited in the North. Robert Gould Shaw, a young white officer from a prominent Boston family, volunteered to command the unit.

Click here to tour the virtual Black Heritage Trail.

For a round-up of resources - websites, blogs, DNA research - that will help you learn more about your family, please click here.

Happy trails!

Credit: Tour the Black Heritage Trail® Online, http://www.afroammuseum.org/trail.htm Photo: PBS.org, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h1526b.html

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  1. BRITISH MUSIC EXPERIENCE CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH EXHIBITION OF RARE PHOTOGRAPHS

    MUZIK KINDA SWEET BY POGUS CAESAR

    Date: 1st – 30th October 2011

    Venue: British Music Experience at The O2 Bubble, London, UK

    The British Music Experience presented by the Co-operative, in association with OOM Gallery will be showcasing an exclusive exhibition of 38 rare photographs celebrating legendary black musicians working in the UK.

    Using a simple camera photographer Pogus Caesar followed the musicians and singers around the famous venues producing a collection that celebrates a style of black music that brings together the UK, USA and the Caribbean.

    From Stevie Wonder in 1989, Grace Jones in 2009 and Big Youth in 2011, this unique exhibition documents how black music, in its Reggae, Soul, Jazz and R&B tributaries of sound, has changed and renewed itself over the decades.

    Journeying from Jimmy Cliff to Jay-Z via Mica Paris and Mary Wilson of The Supremes to David Bowie’s bass player Gail Ann Dorsey, these images conjure up an alphabet of the music of the Black Atlantic.

    The photographs selected from OOM Gallery Archive are also as much about the clubs and venues, as it is about the singers, producers and musicians. The Wailers at The Tower Ballroom, Sly Dunbar at The Hummingbird Club, Courtney Pine at Ronnie Scott’s, Cameo at the Odeon Cinema, Ben E. King at the Hippodrome and the at BBC Pebble Mill, many venues now lost to regeneration or renewal, and only recalled through memory and imagery.

    In their day such venues welcomed black music with open charms, giving safe havens to their audiences, and helping to shape the city’s own distinctive underground and mainstream sound.

    Author and historian Paul Gilroy remarks “Pogus Caesar’s emphatically analog art is rough and full of insight. He conveys the transition between generations, mentalities and economies. These images record a unique period in what would come to be called black British life.”

    In a 30-year career of taking pictures, Pogus Caesar has uniquely captured moments of everyday life with a simple Canon 35mm camera, spontaneously recording the unfamiliar, as well as the celebrated and the iconic. With reference to the title Caesar says ” In my teens, when listening to the latest records, if the song had a wicked rhythm and cool lyrics and we would nod our head and say yeah man, the Muzik Kinda Sweet!
  2. They are launching this at O2 on 12th October..i'll be attending as this looks great for BHM.

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