Charlotte Forten Park

Bookmark Listing


289 Derby Street
Salem, MA


  • Motorcoach Parking: No


  • Wifi: No
  • ADA Compliant: Yes
  • Pet Friendly: Yes
  • Function Space Available: No
  • Family Friendly: Yes
Charlotte Forten Salem Massachusetts


Salem’s newest green space honors the legacy of Charlotte Forten, an abolitionist, women’s right’s activist, and Salem State University’s first African-American graduate.

The roughly 25,000 square foot Charlotte Forten Park includes a plaza for programs and performances, a harbor-walk around the South River, swing seating facing the water, built-in percussion features, and green space. The park can connect to Downtown Salem, the Point neighborhood and Salem’s historic waterfront while paying tribute to Forten’s legacy and celebrating all that she achieved for generations to come.

Charlotte Forten was an educator, writer, poet, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist. Forten was originally from Philadelphia where she was brought up in a prominent abolitionist family and her desire for an equal education led her to Salem, Massachusetts, where she was the first African-American to graduate from the Salem Normal School, now Salem State University, with the class of 1856.

Throughout her life, Forten faced inequality due to her race and gender; however, that did not deter her. She used her pen to express her frustrations and advocate for solutions. Her life’s work as a poet and translator showcased her as a leading social justice activist. Forten, who was an advocate for equality for women and people of color, education for all, and for the end of slavery, was also the first northern African-American teacher to go south to teach former slaves.

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