The Museum's new Black Books exhibition and complementary programming examine historical and cultural implications of forbidding enslaved Africans to read or write, and trace the evolution and majestic recovery of their written voices. Free black communities from Boston and beyond used their writings to advance the pursuit of freedom, fuel civil rights campaigns from the Colonial period through the 19th century, and inspire gifted writers through the ages to use words as an agent of social change.
Black Books places pioneering works of 18th and 19th century black authors from the Museum of African American History's collection of rare books in dialogue with more contemporary works across a wide array of selected genres: poetry, fiction, auto-biography, medicine, military experience, sociology, music and more! The featured books include David Walker's 1829 Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World together with The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), and the published work of Phillis Wheatley in dialogue with 20th century poetic works of Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni.
Black Books also explores the early black community of Boston and their purposeful, powerful, and prophetic use of the written word in pursuit of freedom and civil rights. The exhibit's body of literature also examines artistic and creative expression in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. It draws on the Museum's antique book collection, the Clark Collection of African American Literature housed at Suffolk University's Mildred F. Sawyer Library, and other archives, historical societies, libraries, and museums.
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The Black Books exhibit party, public and education programs,
scholarly lectures, book parties, MAAH Music concerts, Black Heritage Trail®
tours and special presentations for educators and school groups.
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*There is much to see at MAAH, including our exhibits.
The Museum's historic sites in Boston and Nantucket stand witness to 18th and 19th century black patriots and their colleagues who distinguished themselves through brave campaigns to ensure freedom rising across the nation. Hear amazing stories presented through our exhibits, guided tours, engaging lectures, inspirational concerts, enriching teacher institutes, and fun children's activities celebrating the roles of Boston's black and white abolitionists in monumental historic events. Plan a visit to our campuses on Boston's Beacon Hill and Nantucket's Four Corners to become immersed in important American history.
Tour the nation's first African Meeting House, the oldest black church building still standing in the US, with a National Park Service Ranger, Boston African American National Historic Site. Hear compelling stories of brave men and women from the Colonial period through the 19th century.
See the Abiel Smith School, the first public school built to educate black children. Watch a 20-minute film on Boston's powerful black history, and browse the Museum Store for an array of inspired gifts.
PHOTO CREDIT: The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave written by himself (1845)
and David Walker's Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the United States (1829).