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Looking Back on 30 Years: and Forward

by Polly Attwood | published in The Concord Journal

If you have read the two previous articles, you know where we came from, and some of what we do. Another large part of our task is to make sure that we work closely with all parts of our community – schools, town government, Police Department, faith groups, residents and organizations. One of our resolves as we go forward is to network (horrible word) more closely with others, not only in Concord and Carlisle, but also with similar organizations in nearby towns.

This connecting requires time and energy and, above all, that we have the aims and work of he Council in the forefront of our minds as we go about our daily lives. This is easier said than done. One of the strengths of he Council is that it is made up of volunteers; one of its challenges is that it is made up of volunteers – many of us have full-time jobs, careers, families, other commitments, other things on our minds. However….we have some exciting new initiatives in the works, and a group of people who are committed to making them happen.

Firstly, we are hoping to produce a website that will give instant access to information about the Council, as well as news about upcoming events, resources, links to related sites, and email addresses for people to contact us with comments and suggestions. We hope it will prove to be an easy way for people to raise issues of concern in our communities.

Our second big push this year is to create a Black Heritage and Abolitionists Trail in Concord. Did you know that there are many houses in Concord that were stops on the Underground Railroad? That the Alcotts, Thoreaus and Emersons were all very active Abolitionists? That Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison all visited and spoke in Concord? That when some clergy refused to take on the topic of anti-slavery, many Concord residents refused to attend those churches? That the sisters, aunts, mothers and wives of those famous Transcendentalists formed the ‘Concord Female Anti-Slavery Society’? That they raised funds and actively supported William Lloyd Garrison’s paper, ‘The Liberator’? That some of our streets are named after black residents – Jennie Dugan, Brister Freeman?

Our aim is to construct a physical trail loop that includes many of these places, along with the re-packaging of the book, ‘Black History in Concord’, written by Barbara Elliott and Janet Jones of the Concord Public Schools in 1978. They researched and gathered the information in it for use by teachers in the classrooms. We hope to make it more available, both in the schools ad in the community, so that it can be not only a teaching tool, but a guide to the trail itself.

We are planning to make maps available to Town History Guides, the Information Booth, Orchard House, Concord Museum, The Walden Shop, and many other places. And to mark the installation of the Trail – an ‘Inaugural Walk’! Clearly there is a lot of work ahead of us, and – ah, yes, we can include our progress and details of the trail on that as yet unformed website.

All this is going to take time, energy – and money. If you are interested in this project, or any other of our activities, or if you would like to be on our mailing list, please email us (email below). If you would like to make a donation to help further the progress of the Trail, a check made out to ‘Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council’, with ‘Black Heritage Trail’ in the memo line, would be gratefully received. Any donation to the Council is tax-deductible.

We also welcome any comments or suggestions you may have. The Council only works when it is in partnership with all parts of the communities of Concord and Carlisle – your input is not only welcome, but necessary, if we are to be a voice for equity, justice and dignity for all. Town planners, business leaders, retailers, realtors, teachers, parents, students – anyone who lives or works in Concord or Carlisle, as well as those who are visitors – all create the complex web that comprises our community. Only by working together can we make the kind of place in which we want our children to grow up.

Polly Attwood, Co-chair, Concord Carlisle Human Rights Council P. O. Box 744, Concord MA 01742 Email:

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