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Phillis is Enslaved by the Wheatley Family

July 11, 1761
July 11, 1761

Phillis is Enslaved by the Wheatley Family

On this day in 1761, John Wheatley, a successful merchant, purchased a frail African girl off a slave ship in Boston. The Wheatleys named her Phillis, after the vessel that had brought her across the Atlantic...

Frederick Douglass First Addresses White Audience

August 11, 1841
August 11, 1841

Frederick Douglass First Addresses White Audience

On this day in 1841, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive slave, addressed a white audience for the first time when he spoke to a gathering of abolitionists on Nantucket. "It was with the utmost difficulty that...

Oak Bluffs Writer Dorothy West Dies

August 16, 1998
August 16, 1998

Oak Bluffs Writer Dorothy West Dies

On this day in 1998, Dorothy West died on Martha's Vineyard. The Boston-born writer was the last living member of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement of African American artists, writers, and musicians that energized American...

Jury Decides in Favor of Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman

August 22, 1781
August 22, 1781

Jury Decides in Favor of Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman

On this day in 1781, a jury in Great Barrington found in favor of "Mum Bett," a black woman who had been a slave in the home of Colonel John Ashley for at least 30...

Lucy Terry Prince Composes Poem

August 28, 1748
August 28, 1748

Lucy Terry Prince Composes Poem

On this day in 1746, Lucy Terry Prince was among the residents of Deerfield present during an Abenaki raid on the village. Lucy, an enslaved woman, described the horrific event in "The Bars Fight," the earliest...

Boston Wheelmen Sponsor Nation's First 100-Mile Bicycle Race

September 6, 1882
September 6, 1882

Boston Wheelmen Sponsor Nation's First 100-Mile Bicycle Race

On this day in 1882, seven men took over 12 hours to cover the distance from Worcester to Boston in the nation's first 100-mile bicycle race. Boston was becoming the bicycle capital of America. Pedestrians...

Office to Help Freed Slaves Opens in Worcester

September 27, 1867
September 27, 1867

Office to Help Freed Slaves Opens in Worcester

On this day in 1867, a Worcester newspaper announced that "in accordance with the desire of a number of citizens," a freedmens' office would be established to make it easy for white employers to hire...

Northampton Dedicates Sojourner Truth Statue

October 4, 2002
October 4, 2002

Northampton Dedicates Sojourner Truth Statue

On this day in 2002, a statue was installed in Florence, a village of Northampton, to honor Sojourner Truth, the former enslaved woman best known for the "Ain't I a Woman" speech she delivered in 1851....

Lydia Maria Child Dies

October 20, 1880
October 20, 1880

Lydia Maria Child Dies

On this day in 1880, Lydia Maria Child, whom abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison called "the first woman in the Republic," was buried in Wayland. A successful novelist and magazine editor and the author of a...

Senator Edward Brooke Born

October 26, 1919
October 26, 1919

Senator Edward Brooke Born

On this day in 1919, Edward Brooke, III, the only African American to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress, was born. A decorated veteran, he graduated from the BU School of Law in 1948 and...