Women’s History Month is an annual opportunity to revisit, remember, and reflect on the many diverse roles, stories, and travails of women throughout the past and--many would argue--up to and including the present moment. (But that’s a whole other story.)
A good large lens to start with is the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM). An expansive series of online exhibits covers topics that ring bells that have clear resonance with the current Presidential campaign: “Standing Up for Change,” “First But Not the Last,” “Pathways to Equality,” and “Creating a Female Political Culture.”
Focusing closer to home, you could do worse than starting with the NWHM’s profile of Elizabeth Freeman, the first African American woman to successfully file a lawsuit for freedom in Massachusetts.
The Mass Gov Blog, on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts official website, provides suggestions of several ways to commemorate Women’s History Month throughout the state, including the fourth annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in western Mass., and the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.
An online exhibit called “Can She Do It?” at The Massachusetts Historical Society debates a woman’s right to vote and highlights three women suffragists in our state.
Old Sturbridge Village will hold a weekend-long Women's History Weekend March 28-29 from 9:30-4:00, celebrating “extraordinary and everyday women” of the 19th century, with OSV’s signature at-the-time custuming. Don’t expect the staff to give any indication that they know what you’re talking about when you mention coronavirus or the presidential campaign.
And if you’re in Provincetown, don’t miss the exhibition of Jo Hay’s portraits of women leaders. Her paintings in the series Persisters, some of which are on display at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum in March, include Massachusetts leaders Elizabeth Warren, and Ayanna Pressley, plus Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Greta Thunberg, Emma Gonzalez, Rachel Maddow, Christine Blasey-Ford, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
In 1619 the first black American indentured servants arrived in the American colonies. From then right through to today, black history in this country has been marked by deep oppression and struggle.
Several timelines offer a quick dive into Black History.
The National Park Service website includes a terse timeline of black history from 1619 to 2008.
The History Channel’s black history timeline delves into more detail, with many links.
George Washington University has a timeline of human rights-related events throughout the world.
The African American Heritage website has a timeline of Black History in this country, with a specific focus on Massachusetts.
This timeline is just about slavery in Massachusetts.
Events and Programs:
Communities all over Massachusetts hold special events and programs to mark Black History Month. A few ways to seek out ways to find out about black history near you follow:
Other options for exploring Black History:
Note: Please purchase when possible from a local bookseller or nonprofit (e.g., the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford, the Museum of African American History)
Ten Hills Farm: The Forgotten History of Slavery in the North, by C.S. Manegold
Ten Hills Farm once extended along the banks of the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville, MA. Some of this property eventually became the Isaac Royall House and Slave Quarters.
Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New England, by Jared Ross Hardesty
Exploring the Legacy: People and Places of Significance, by Rosalyn Delores Elder
Since it was passed into law in 1983, the annual commemoration of the life of Martin Luther King has become institutionalized all over Massachusetts and the country. However, we live in highly polarized political times, with increasing acts of violence and hate being perpetrated in all corners of the country, sadly including communities in Massachusetts. Thus, it is all the more important to engage with MLK day this year and going forward, to come together and celebrate what has been achieved and move ahead to make needed change.
A variety of events, are being organized or hosted by Human Rights organizations. The organizations below are all Human Rights Commissions in Massachusetts, listed alphabetically so you can easily find a community close to you.
Amherst Human Rights Commission
Arlington Human Rights Commission
Attleboro Council on Human Rights
Barnstable County Human Rights Advisory Commission
Belmont Against Racism
Belmont Human Rights Commission
Beverly Human Rights Committee
Boston Office of Diversity
Boston Human Rights Commission
Brockton Commission on Diversity
Brookline Office of Diversity, Inclusion, & Community Relations
Cambridge Human Rights Commission
Chelsea Human Rights Commission
Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council
Danvers Human Rights and Inclusion Committee
Dedham Human Rights Commission
Easton Human Rights Committee
Fitchburg Human Rights Commission
Framingham Human Relations Commission
Greenfield Human Rights Commission
Malden Human Rights and Fair Housing Commission
Lawrence Human Rights Commission
Lexington Human Rights Committee
Lynn Human Rights Commission
Medford Human Rights Commission
Melrose Human Rights Commission
Needham Human Rights Committee
New Bedford Human Relations Commission
Newburyport Human Rights Commission
Newton Human Rights Commission
Salem No Place for Hate Committee
Northampton Human Rights Commission
Pittsfield Human Rights Commission
Quincy Human Rights Commission
Reading Human Relations Advisory Committee
Somerville Human Rights Commission
Wakefield Human Rights Commission
Westborough Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Winchester Multicultural Network
Woburn Human Rights Commission
Worcester Human Rights Commission
Worcester Office of Human Rights
Or go here for a selected list of events, mostly in the Greater Boston area:
Also—exciting—the 2020 NAACP convention will be held in Boston! Register and attend here: