Boston is rich in African American history. The Afro-American Museum is dedicated to preserving, conserving, and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans during the colonial period in New England.
The museum exhibits are located in two buildings, the African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School. The Smith School was constructed in 1835, and is the earliest public school opened for Black children in the United States.
The African Meeting House was built in 1806, home of the First African Baptist Congregation. In 1808, the Independent African School was established here in the basement, predecessor to the Abiel Smith School. Social activism and community development occurred into the 1820's, guided by the leadership of Thomas Paul. In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison began publishing the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator. In 1832, Garrison helped organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society at the African Meeting House. The society is believed to be the first organization in the United States that advocated immediate and complete emancipation. Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman participated at meetings here, as well as other patriotic African Americans and early human rights advocates.
The museum has three major permanent exhibits: The Times We Had (notable African American Bostonians), Separate Schools, Unequal Education (early struggles in Massachusetts for black public education), and Building on a Firm Foundation (a film about the Beacon Hill African American community through the eyes of an 19th century teenager). The African Meeting House building itself is the historic centerpiece. Please refer to the museum's website for their frequent special exhibits.
Boston can be considered a Cradle of Freedom in many respects, and the home to many important African Americans. CelebrateBoston historical reference pages include: Abiel Smith School, Salem Poor, Peter Salem, Mass 54th Memorial, and the Triangle Trade.
Museum of Afro-American History
46 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02114