Events planned through February to celebrate Black History Month

LYNN ? Massachusetts is steeped in Black history, from the Berkshire Mountains to coastal cities like Lynn, where abolitionist Frederick Douglass moved with his family 1841.In those days, Nahant Street was teeming with abolitionists and safe houses, earning it the name Escape Alley. A modest home on Boston Street in Saugus served as a key station in the network of shelters for runaway slaves, as did the house on Washington Street in Marblehead, then owned by Simeon and Betsy Dodge.February is Black history month, and plenty of events are scheduled across the state to commemorate it, given that Massachusetts was home to many great African-American activities, from Phyllis Wheatley to W.E.B. DuBois.”Essex County had more abolitionist activity that most other places. Everywhere you look, there’s another safe house, another story,” said Bruce Jones, a National Park Service supervisory ranger at the Salem Maritime historic site who, with his wife, education specialist Tina Cross, received the 2004 Freedom Star Award for their research into the Underground Railroad in Essex County.A marker near the Lynn Commons bandstand pays tribute to Douglass, who escaped from servitude in Baltimore in 1838, traveling to New England where he became a leader of the Massachusetts anti-slavery movement. Douglass made his famous “I Have Come to Tell you Something About Slavery” speech in Lynn.According to Jones, the so-called Escape Alley on Nahant Street included the homes of Nehemiah Bassett, Isaac Bassett, and Estes Newhall among those where slaves were sheltered.The stone cottage at the city’s High Rock Park, once home to the Hutchinson family, was also the site of abolitionist activity.In Boston, visitors can follow the Black Heritage Trail, a walking tour that explores the history of Boston’s 19th century African-American community that lived primarily on the north slope of Beacon Hill. The tour consists of 14 historic sites including the 54th Regiment Memorial and the African Meeting House. The Boston African American Historic Site offers guided tours and information for self-guided tours. For more information on the tour, go online to www.afroammuseum.org/trail.htm.Nantucket also has a Black History Trail. Presented by the Museum of Afro-American History and the Friends of the African Meeting House on Nantucket, the Black History Trail features 10 sites that reveal the heritage of African Americans living on Nantucket, especially in the nineteenth century. Visit www.afroammuseum.org/bhtn_intro.htm for more on Nantucket Afro-American history.On Martha’s Vineyard, the African American Heritage Trail is comprised of 16 sites, dedicated to the formerly unrecognized contributions made by people of African descent to the history of the island. A significant landmark on the trail is the Shearer Cottage, an inn established in 1912 by Charles Shearer, the son of a slave and slave owner. The Shearer Cottage catered to African Americans who were not welcome as guests at other Island establishments. Additional information can be found online at www.mvheritagetrail.org.In Cambridge, the local African American Heritage Trail consists of a self-guided walking tour highlighted by 20 historic sites. These sites are reminders of the history that surrounds the social, political and economic development of Cambridge. African Americans honored along the trail include W.E.B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP; William H. Lewis, the first African American to serve as assistant attorney general of the United States; and Bishop George A. McGuire, founder of the African Orthodox denomination. For more on the Cambridge trail, go online to www.cambridgema.gov/~Historic/aahtrail.html.The Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail in Great Barrington consists of 48 sites across the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area and celebrates African Americans in the region who played pivotal roles in key national and international events. African Americans honore

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