Preserving African American History

Article excerpt

THE DRINKING GOURD SOCIETY

Editor's Note: The following appeal offers another glimpse into the Commonwealth 's black heritage and abolitionist history. Many groups throughout the state are currently seeking to document the hidden history of African American communities in their towns and locals. We hope to highlight these and other local preservation initiatives in future issues of HJM.

As documented by Henry David Thoreau and many other abolitionists and transcendentalists, Concord, Massachusetts, was home to an inspiring African community in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One house from that era remains and is currently located at 324 Bedford St. The house was the home of several generations of Concord's early African- American families (some of whom are memorialized through Concord field, streets and spring names or tributes in town museums and historic sites).

We, the Drinking Gourd Project, are a group of concerned citizens who have launched a campaign to raise the funds needed to move the house from its current location and eventually restore the house. It is the only legacy of Concord's African- American history, and a unique and precious resource of both local and national history.

We are appealing to readers to contact us with donations and the names of groups with potential interest in helping to save this historic building. The current owners applied for a permit to demolish the house, and the demolition delay order expired on September 12th. However, because the house and plot are for sale together, the house cannot be removed before a new owner consents. The Town of Concord is supporting the effort to save the house from demolition but the future remains uncertain.

We have been given an extremely generous gift of $30,000 toward saving the house by one Concord resident, and another couple has offered a matching grant of one dollar for every two donated up to $10,000. But we still have a long way to go to raise the necessary funds to secure the house, and we need your help.

THE DRINKING GOURD PROJECT

Our mission is to establish African American and Abolitionist Heritage Tours in Concord, MA. Since it was established in 1635, Concord has been the center of global historical attention. Much of this attention has focused on the literary contributions of the town's leading citizens and authors, such as: Thoreau, Sanborn, Emerson, and the Alcotts. The Drinking Gourd Project's goal is to unearth and publish the stories of lesser-known individuals who led brave and heroic lives, and to create a venue to explore these stories that have been forgotten or are no longer told.

Our specific project goals include: 1. Establishing a permanent African American and Abolitionist Heritage Tour in Concord. This includes research and historical verification of facts, trail markers, and text and training for town guides. …