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 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 and 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, historical significance and contributions.

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.


January 28

I am Not Your Negro Documentary Screening and Discussion

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards, “I Am Not Your Negro” is a documentary film directed by Raoul Peck, based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript “Remember This House.” Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as his personal observations of American history.

February 1 – February 28

200 Narratives for 200 years: The Power of Literacy

To honor the Bicentennial of Frederick Douglass, the New Bedford Historical Society and the New Bedford Public Library will give out free copies of the book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written by Himself” to the first 200 New Bedford Public Library cardholders. Copies available at each branch. This is part of the Douglass Project 2018.

February 1 – February 28

Black History Month Exhibit

Mayor Jon Mitchell, City of New Bedford presents an exhibit celebrating Black History Month, by artist and curator Alison Wells. Opening Reception during AHA! New Bedford Thursday, February 8th 6p-8p, meet the artist and enjoy light refreshments in the Ashley Room, City Hall.

February 1 – February 28

Black History Month Coloring Book

Learn about famous African-Americans of New Bedford, such as Lewis Temple, Frederick Douglass, and Polly Johnson at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, 33 William Street, Wednesday through Sunday, 9:00AM-5:00PM. Free.

February 7 – March 7

Frederick Douglass Traveling Exhibit

The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park is pleased to display the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History’s Frederick Douglass Traveling Exhibit in the NPS Visitor Center, 33 William Street, during regular hours.

February 8

Enlist in the 54th Regiment

Visit the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park from 5:00PM-8:00PM where a park ranger will be telling stories of the brave men of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the first all-black regiment of U.S. soldiers. Participants will be able to “sign the rolls.” Free. 33 William Street.

February 11

18th Annual 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. 2018 is the bicentennial of Douglass’s birth. First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street, 2-6 PM. Sponsored by the New Bedford Historical Society.

February 14

Frederick Douglass 200th Birthday Celebration

A day of poetry and celebration of one of the most notable men of the nineteenth century. Born a slave in Talbot County Maryland, in 1818, Frederick Bailey would escape his chains in 1838 and become Frederick Douglass, one of the most notable men of the nineteenth century and the ideal of an American self-made man.

February 14

Frederick Douglass Junior Ranger Program

Happy 200th Birthday, Frederick Douglass! The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park will unveil their Frederick Douglass Junior Ranger Program. Be the first to take the challenge and complete the newest Junior Ranger Activity Book. Earn a badge, get sworn in by a ranger, make all your friends jealous. 33 William Street.

February 24

Cultural Connections Concert

Experience an unforgettable Cultural Connections Concert as The African Children’s Choir unites with New Bedford’s talented voices from the South Coast Children’s Chorus and New Bedford Public Schools Carney Academy Select Chorus. Keith Middle School, 225 Hathaway Boulevard, New Bedford, 7PM; $15 general admission, $10 students/seniors.