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.
Download a copy of the NBHS Black History Month Events Click Here.
Thursday January 17 – March 7
From Slavery to Freedom: African Americans in Maritime History
Join the New Bedford Library for a Panel exhibit that highlights the important role of African Americans and Cape Verdeans in New Bedford’s maritime history. Location: New Bedford Public Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor.
Saturday January 26
Historical Reenactment: Coretta Scott King Performed by Jeanne Costa
Break through the lens of history and see Coretta King’s life, love, family, and activism come to life before you with the skillful historical reenactment of local actor, Jeanne Costa. Location: New Bedford Public Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor at 3pm.
Saturday February 2
Whaling Captains of Color – America’s First Meritocracy
Author Skip Finley presents excerpts from his new book ‘Whaling Captains of Color- America’s First Meritocracy’. “At sea, a black master could slap or flog a white sailor. On land, he couldn’t look a white man in the eye..”- Skip Finley. Location: New Bedford Public Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor from 2:30 – 4:40pm.
Sunday February 10
19th 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 was the bicentennial of Douglass’s birth.
Location: First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street from 2-6 PM. Sponsored by the New Bedford Historical Society.
Thursday February 14
Happy Birthday, Frederick Douglass!
Join Doodles in a kid’s workshop to make birthday cards to celebrate the 201st birthday of this great American. Handouts and materials provided. Prizes given for most original cards. Location: New Bedford Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor from 5:30 – 7pm.
Tuesday February 19
Sgt. William H. Carney – A Short Film
Carl Cruz highlights the life of his celebrated ancestor, William H. Carney, and reads about Carney’s heroics during the U.S. Civil War in, Hold the Flag High. Handouts and materials provided. Location: New Bedford Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor from 1:30 – 3:30pm.
Thursday February 21
New Bedford and the Underground Railroad
The Journey of Henry Box Brown – a short film and reading from Voices from the Underground Railroad. Brother and sister, Jeb and Mattie escape from enslavement in Maryland and travel on the Underground Railroad to find their brother in New Bedford. Handouts and materials provided. Location: New Bedford Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor from 1:30 – 3:30pm.
Saturday February 23
African Americans and the Maritime Trades
Professor Timothy Walker presents ‘African Americans and the Maritime Trades’ Talk and Presentation. Light refreshments. Location: New Bedford Library 613 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor from 2:30 – 4:40pm.