African American & Indigenous Peoples Historical Reckoning Project

Cost: $180,000

Location: Winthrop Square and other locations in Cambridge

Short Description:  Restore and expand the African American Heritage Trail in Cambridge, highlighting the accomplishments of Black Cantabrigians, and recognize the historical sites of Indigenous peoples in Cambridge and include traditional Eastern Woodland languages on City property.

Long Description:

Building on an already existing resource, this project will replace existing markers on the African American Heritage Trail, which highlights Black Cantabrigians at the places where they used to live. Markers were put up in the 1990s, but some of the signs are now missing, and the ones that are left are rusty, obscured, or worn out. This project will replace existing signs and install new markers at new locations, expanding the trail to include the contributions and experiences of twentieth-century Black Cantabrigians.

The names and contributions of African American soldiers from Cambridge who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War are under-acknowledged in the Cambridge landscape. Dawes Island, which memorializes William Dawes’s ride of alarm on the day war broke out offers possibilities for such recognition. The idea is to replace the existing benches with benches memorializing these Black soldiers, some of whom are believed to be buried in the ancient graveyard across the street. The location of Dawes Island has direct historic context: it is between the Common, where the Continentals were encamped, and the Old Burying Ground.

The second component of this proposal is expanding recognition for Indigenous Peoples in Cambridge. It is important to acknowledge the contributions of Native peoples, both before and after white settlement, and to educate residents and visitors about those traditions. It is proposed that traditional Eastern Woodland languages be added to City properties and that Native American sites in Cambridge be commemorated with historical markers and other installations, similar to the marker in Winthrop Square.

These projects will introduce those who live, work, go to school, or worship here to the rich diversity of peoples who have lived in Cambridge and bring to light their experiences and achievements. The Memorials and Markers should include explanatory text and illustrations and could also use QR codes to connect the viewer to more information.

  • Matthew Nelson
    published this page in PB Cycle 8 2021-12-01 16:49:21 -0500