Black History Month

in New Bedford

In the days of anti-slavery agitation, New Bedford was a vital stop of the Underground Railroad. The most famous refugee to settle in New Bedford was Frederick Douglass, noted abolitionist orator and leader, who arrived in New Bedford in 1838. Another notable citizen, blacksmith, abolitionist and inventor, Lewis Temple, opened an iron works shop, which primarily serviced whaling. Temple invented the “Temple Toggle Iron” in 1848, a pivot-head harpoon which revolutionized the whaling industry. Paul Cuffee was a notable merchant, philanthropist and civil rights activist. Martha B. Briggs taught self-emancipated people how to read and write in an evening school set up for those who made it to New Bedford on the Underground Railroad. Sergeant William H. Carney was awarded the coveted Congressional Medal of Honor, becoming the first African American to receive this honor. New Bedford has many notable African American figures of historical significance who have made considerable contributions to the community.

Join us in celebrating the rich histories of those who not only contributed civically to New Bedford’s community, but also fought against deep hindering social injustices, and subsequently fought for the future of equality in our country.

More information is also available at New Bedford Historical Society.


Friday, February 7, 2020


Across the nation and around the world, The Philadelphia Dance Company, or Philadanco, is known for its innovative and creative approach while preserving the predominantly African-American traditions in dance.
Philadanco has a legacy of breaking barriers and building bridges across cultural divides, consistently performing for audiences representing an amalgamation of people from diverse communities.

Location: Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, 684 Purchase Street  at 8pm.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Brother Outsider – The Bayard Rustin Story

Despite his achievements in the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin was silenced and imprisoned due to being an openly gay man in a homophobic era. Join the New LGBTQ Bedford Winter Film Series at the New Bedford Whaling Museum for a free film screening and discussion on Brother Outsider film.

Location: New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill from 1-4 PM.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Frederick Douglass Read – a – Thon

Join the members of the NB Historical Society and community members as we read the Narrative of Frederick Douglass, noted abolitionist and a freedom seeker, who found a welcoming community in New Bedford in 1838.

Location: First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street from 2-6 PM. Sponsored by the New Bedford Historical Society.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Anomaly Poetry Open Mic

Join Commune-N-Tea and Anomaly Poetry at the Co-Creative Center for February’s open mic night in honor of Black History Month! We’re honoring the immense talent of New Bedford’s Black poets & artists during this open mic! Interested poets can RSVP via email to, or message us here on FB! There will also be sign-up spots available the night of.

Location: Co-Creative Center, 137 Union Street 7-9pm.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Virtual Tour of the Nathan and Polly Johnson House

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park will be debuting a new Virtual Tour of the Nathan and Polly Johnson House via our Facebook on February 14th.  This virtual tour and video will allow people from all round the world to learn about and explore this National Historic Landmark in the heart of New Bedford.

Location: New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park Facebook Page.

All Month Long

New Bedford Art Museum will be showing: Warmed by Sunshine, Lit by Starlight by Art Ballelli & Roy St. Christopher Rossow.

Warmed by Sunshine, Lit by Starlight showcases new paintings of timeless places. Artists Art Ballelli and Roy St. Christopher Rossow create representations of scenes familiar to the South Coast region that is activated by light. A moment of late afternoon sunlight cutting through dark clouds, the bright arc of a distant welding torch shimmering across black water, century-old houses warmed by sunshine, and a historic waterfront lit by starlight. Each moment captured by the artists highlights the historical relevance and beauty of Westerly, RI and New Bedford, MA.

Location: New Bedford Art Museum, 608 Pleasant Street visit website for hours.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum will be celebrating women of color in Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast

Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast, women such as Emma Louise Piper (1845-1915) who was the first African American teacher in Cambridge, MD after the Civil War; New Bedford educator Marial Harper (1934-2016) who positively impacted numerous lives at New Bedford High School and was the first woman and minority to be appointed a Housemaster there; and Jennie Horne (1920-1998), foot soldier in the War on Poverty initiatives of the 1960s.

Location: New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA.