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Eli Whitney Patents the Cotton Gin

March 14, 1794
March 14, 1794

Eli Whitney Patents the Cotton Gin

On this day in 1794, Westborough native Eli Whitney applied for a patent on the cotton gin. Raised on a farm in Massachusetts, he invented a machine that made growing cotton so profitable that the...

Legislature Guarantees Access to Public Schools

March 25, 1845
March 25, 1845

Legislature Guarantees Access to Public Schools

On this day in 1845, the Massachusetts legislature guaranteed that every child in the state would have access to a public school. One source of pressure on the lawmakers was a petition submitted by a...

Boston Minister Tried for Inciting a Riot

April 3, 1855
April 3, 1855

Boston Minister Tried for Inciting a Riot

On this day in 1855, the case against Boston minister Theodore Parker came to trial. Charged with inciting an abolitionist riot, he defended himself by describing the horrors of slavery. He told the dramatic story...

Boston Mourns Martin Luther King, Jr.

April 4, 1968
April 4, 1968

Boston Mourns Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day in 1968, Boston crackled with tension. African Americans, enraged by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, took to the streets. Community leaders urged calm, police showed restraint, and while...

W.E.B. DuBois Returns to Harvard

April 23, 1904
April 23, 1904

W.E.B. DuBois Returns to Harvard

On this day in 1904, W.E.B. DuBois gave a lecture on "the race question" at Harvard, where nine years before he had been the first black person to receive a Ph.D. From his childhood in...

The Birth of a Nation Sparks Protest

April 26, 1915
April 26, 1915

The Birth of a Nation Sparks Protest

On this day in 1915 Boston's African American community protested the showing of the racist film The Birth of a Nation. When 800 black women gathered at a Baptist church, one speaker suggested that "if...

Activists Erect Tent City in Boston

April 27, 1968
April 27, 1968

Activists Erect Tent City in Boston

On this day in 1968, hundreds of demonstrators occupied a parking lot in Boston's South End. Houses on the site had recently been demolished, and their occupants displaced. To protest this kind of "urban renewal,"...

Celtics Coach Red Auerbach Retires

April 28, 1966
April 28, 1966

Celtics Coach Red Auerbach Retires

On this day in 1966, Red Auerbach retired as head coach of the Boston Celtics after leading the team to 11 championships in 16 years. The Brooklyn native was a genius at acquiring talented players...

Agrippa Hull Enlists

May 1, 1777
May 1, 1777

Agrippa Hull Enlists

On this day in 1777, Agrippa Hull, a freeborn black man from the Berkshire County town of Stockbridge, signed on to serve in the Continental Army for the duration of the Revolutionary War. The 18-year-old...

Sarah Remond Ejected from Boston Theater

May 4, 1853
May 4, 1853

Sarah Remond Ejected from Boston Theater

On this day in 1853, Sarah Parker Remond and two other African Americans entered a Boston theater intending to enjoy a Mozart opera. When the manager discovered they were people of color, he directed them...