Cambridge African American Heritage Trail Timeline

Cambridge African American Heritage Trail Timeline

This timeline highlights the lifetimes and accomplishments of twenty notable African Americans in Cambridge from 1840 to 1940.

Cambridge is home to one of the oldest African American communities in the nation and has long attracted African Americans of national prominence and influence. For many years, local groups worked separately to gather and maintain the history of the community. In November 1990, then-Vice Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves sponsored a City Council resolution asking these independent organizations to collaborate in the creation of "a Cambridge African American Historical Trail, to serve as . . . a vehicle for teaching and interpreting Cambridge African American history." In response, over twenty representatives from local community organizations came together in early 1991 to form the Cambridge African American Heritage Project. The mission of the project was to illuminate the unique history and vital contributions of Cambridge African Americans for residents and visitors, through the creation of a historic trail and the distribution of educational and informational materials.

This timeline, based on the illustrated guide to the Cambridge African American Heritage Trail, includes photos* of - where available - each of the twenty historic plaques across the city honor notable African Americans who were abolitionists, authors, educators, and office holders in Cambridge from 1840 to 1940. Each entry includes highlights of the individual's contributions and the location of the marker, along with whether or not the marker is still in existence. Sixteen of 20 are still in their locations.

You can purchase the guide, which contains the complete text of each marker, a map with key, and a brief history of African Americans in Cambridge for $2.00 each (includes tax) at the Historical Commission (831 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139). Books can also be ordered by mail; order form and instructions.

*Thanks to sister NeighborMedia correspondents, Bev Mire and Lori Jobe, for assistance with photos.

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