Alex began our walk through time with a version of this story:
The story resonated with those taking the tour and immediately brought the past to life, reminding us that issues of race have run as a thread through the fabric of American society since its inception. We discussed how black men struggled in a fight for freedom, noting their servitude as incompatible with the ideals of our founding fathers, and later seeking equality in society that had more common interactions among people of different races at an earlier time than I realized.
The racial thread wound with us through the streets of Boston. We paused at the site of the Boston Massacre, in front of the old state house building. For the first time, I learned about Crispus Attucks, who is widely known as the first man killed in the American Revolution. The most memorable cultural item created as a result of the Massacre is Paul Revere's engraving of it. I recalled from my early American art history classes that there were no dark faces in the image. I surmised with my guide that perhaps in an attempt to gain widespread general support for the movement toward Independence this was a conscious bit of self censorship.
|August St. Gaudens used live models for realistic|
depictions of black men serving in the Civil War in this
monument located across the street from the Massachusetts
State House. The fine details of his work remind us of their individualism.
|The oldest home on Beacon Hill, the residence |
of George Middleton represents a
neighborhood for free African
Americans in the 18th century.
|Part of the Museum of African American history, |
this building itself has a long history of use, re-use and preservation
I very much enjoyed the tour. I also enjoyed our small group of three friends who took it together. I felt that I had plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to use walking time to discuss my observations with my guide. There was a lot of walking in this tour, which may not be desirable for everyone, but I found it wonderful to explore parts of the city I had never seen before, even though I lived in Boston for four years. It was a pleasure to see another often under-recognized group highlighted in a tour dedicated to their story. Together, these multi-dimensional community stories that the Context Tours have provided me form the fabric of our heritage. While I work to ensure our documentation about this heritage is cared for, it is nice to see historians and even the travel industry taking the raw materials of history to create educational and entertaining programs.
Please also see the blog post by Evolving Critic, who accompanied me on the tour. He focuses on the architectural landmarks along our route.