Here are several ways to celebrate and learn during Black History Month in Salem.
Salem’s Black Heritage Trail
This self-guided tour for your smartphone was produced by Voices Against Injustice. It is a free download for your smartphone. (Download the UniGuide mobile app and select “Salem’s Black Heritage.”) The tour includes 24 stops around town that are associated with Salem’s Black history. It covers historical figures and events spanning from the role of Tituba in the Salem Witch Trials to the success of contemporary author Stephen Hemingway.
Taverns, Gardens and Parties
On February 16, join The House of the Seven Gables for “Taverns, Gardens and Parties,” a free online lecture on early black history in Essex County, Massachusetts. The lecture will be given by University of New Hampshire professor Kabria Baumgartner, who is an associate professor of American studies and English, a core faculty member in the Women’s Studies department, and a faculty affiliate in the History Department. She earned her Ph.D. in African American studies and a graduate certificate in feminist studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The Remond Family
Visit the graves of John Remond and members of the Remond Family at Harmony Grove Cemetery. John Remond was an immigrant from Curacao who ran a successful catering business in the early 19th century. He was responsible for planning important events like Salem’s 200th anniversary and a dinner for President Andrew Jackson, both at Hamilton Hall. Remond’s children, Charles and Sarah, were known for their activism during Salem’s abolitionist movement in the mid-19th century.
Black History: North Shore Perspectives
The online panel discussion, “Black History: North Shore Perspectives,” will be hosted by the Beverly Public Library on February 10. While the North Shore prides itself on its rich local history, the presence and participation of the Black community is often overlooked in the conceptualization and telling of that history. Panelists will include Doreen Wade, President, Salem United Inc., Andre Bennett, Pastor, Zion Baptist Church in Lynn, and Nicole McClain, President of North Shore Juneteenth Association, Inc. They will share their experiences of what Black history means to them and how they understand its significance for our North Shore community. There remarks will be followed by a facilitated discussion.
African Americans in Essex County, Massachusetts: An Annotated Guide
Add African Americans in Essex County, Massachusetts: An Annotated Guide to your resource library. Published by Salem Maritime National Historic Site the report was released on February 1, 2022. The report identifies a systemic exclusion and marginalization of Black people in archival records. Consequently, lived Black experience remains underrepresented, or sometimes totally absent, in historic interpretation and public memory of 17th, 18th, and 19th century Essex County and New England. The report seeks to address this absence by providing a comprehensive guide on how and where to locate resources for sharing honest and inclusive Black history.
Learn about Charlotte Forten (1837 – 1914), for whom Forten Park on Derby Street has been named. A graduate of the Salem Normal School (now Salem State University) class of 1856, Charlotte Forten was Salem State’s first African American graduate. During her life, she was an abolitionist, educator, writer, poet, translator, and women’s rights activist. Learn more at salemstate.edu/charlotte-forten.
Salem United and the history of Negro Election Day
Learn more about Salem United, and the history of Negro Election Day. The Third Saturday of July is traditionally known as “Black Picnic Day” in Salem. Dating back to 1740 in Saugus, Negro Election Day was a day of celebration for annual elections. In 1880 the event was moved to Salem Willows Park. Over the years, the event has had different names, including Maids Picnic, to honor workers, and Emancipation Day, when it was a Black political convention. The event was moved to the third Saturday of July during World War II. In the 20th century, Jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway performed for the event. Salem United took over management of the event in 2014, and today the organization works to preserve historical significance.
Reverend Jacob Stroyer
Visit the grave of Reverend Jacob Stroyer (1848 – 1908) in Greenlawn Cemetery (his is #3 on the map, which is linked). Stroyer was an author, social reformer, and minister. He was born a slave on a plantation in South Carolina, and after the Civil War he educated himself and made his way to Massachusetts. He was the African Methodist Episcopal minister and pastor of the Salem Colored Mission for 25 years. An articulate speaker and talented writer, he chronicled his life as a slave, which was published in 1879 as, “My Life in the South,” and continues to be cited by historians and anthropologists today. Learn more at nps.gov
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