A few weekends ago, Nate and I had the privilege of attending the wedding of one of our past high school youth groups students. Seeing all of the faces of students who were in and out of our house for years was so sweet. Nate and I look back on those days with our living room full of high schoolers, our guest room bed occupied during summer sleepovers, and a messy kitchen from small group snacks as some of the best years.
To make the most out of the long drive to the New England wedding, we decided to stay 2 nights in Boston. Once we settled on Boston, we googled what to do with our free afternoon. The most commonly suggested activity in search results was the Freedom Trail. While my husband is a history buff and would have been happy to check out the monuments included on the trail, I just couldn’t get jazzed about seeing the historic spots that already fill history textbooks.
I’m tired of hearing about history through a whitewashed lens. Which led us to The Black Heritage Trail.
The Black Heritage Trail leaves from the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial at the top of Beacon Hill. The trail is 1.5ish miles long through hilly, cobbled sidewalks. Bring water, especially if you’re out on a warm day. A Park ranger leads the free 1.5-hour tour through a Black neighborhood of historic abolitionists. Tours are offered at 10 and 1 on weekdays. The walk felt like a private tour since it was only us and three other people. From what I researched, attendance is typically low. While waiting for our tour to start, we listened to the spiel from a paid tour bus guide. The difference in depth of information he provided compared to what our guide shared was remarkable. Our park ranger was an extremely knowledgeable historian who was clearly passionate.
We visited the first all-black school in the city, the first integrated school, the oldest African American church in the country, and houses that participated in the Underground Railroad. We learned about courageous men and women who protected their community, advocated for change, and risked their lives for the advancement of black people in their community and country.
We learned about how they kept each other safe from slave catchers, pulled together resources for newly freed slaves, raised money to collect funds to buy back a man caught and returned to slavery, and how they advocated and won school integration almost 100 years before the rest of the country caught up. It was awe-inspiring.
After the tour was over, I left inspired and encouraged. Nate and I commented about how this is the history we want our children to know. One represented by all races. Where it’s common to hear about the bravery and contributions of black people as equally as we do white people. I highly recommend The Black Heritage Trail and encourage you to seek out opportunities to learn about people groups that are typically underrepresented in our history textbooks.
Have you ever visited The Black Heritage Trail or anything else like it? I’d love recommendations for places to visit as we continue to educate ourselves!