The Drinking Gourd Project members want to thank everyone who came to hear Elise Lemire speak about her new book Black Walden: Slavery and it’s Aftermath in Concord, Massachusetts, and to see the lively reenactment of a Concord Antislavery meeting on May 17th.
It was fascinating to learn about another layer of Concord’s history: as a 1700s town with slaves and self-emancipated blacks, and as an 1800s hotbed of abolitionism. Town place names, like Brister’s Hill Road and Sanborn Middle School remind us that residents before us thought this history was important enough to be memorialized. Did you know that Frank Sanborn raised funds for John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry?
We’re grateful to Elise Lemire for her animated talk about the dynamics of Concord that created both a setting that enabled slavery, and one where enslaved blacks could work for their freedom and live independently. Her tour of Walden Woods where John Freed, Brister Freeman, Cato and Zilpha lived was wonderfully informative.
And bravo to our re-enactors who set the stage for Concord’s abolitionism: Frederick Douglass (Guy Peartree), H.D. Thoreau (Richard Smith), L.M. Alcott (Jan Turnquist), Harriet Tubman (Vicky Blaides), Susan Garrison (Ruthie Block), Mary Rice (Polly Attwood), Ann Bigelow (Rosa Hallowell), Mary Brooks (Barbara Forman) and Prudence Ward (Iris McQuillen-Grace). They taught us that behind every enlightened male abolitionist was a team of strong, brave and very persistent women abolitionists!
The Drinking Gourd Project plans to establish a permanent African American and Abolitionist Heritage Tour in Concord, and educational resources for Concord schools and community groups.
For more information, please see: drinkinggourd.cchumanrights.org. To help fund this project, please send checks made out to The Drinking Gourd Project/CCHRC, to Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council, P.O. Box 744, Concord, MA 01742.
Polly Attwood, Maria Madison, Susan Ryan, Lorell Gifford Ambrose, Liz Clayton & Donna Thomas
The Drinking Gourd Project members