Boston’s Black History is American HistoryRoundup
tags: education, African American history, Boston
Kevin M. Levin is an award-winning educator and historian based in Boston, Massachusetts. He has written extensively about the American Civil War and has spoken across the country on the current controversy surrounding Confederate monuments. His expertise on the Confederate monument controversy has led to interviews with The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal as well as numerous international newspapers. He has appeared on C-SPAN, NPR, Al-Jazeera, BackStory With the American History Guys, and Vox.
During the summer months I devote part of my time to leading student tours of Boston. Some of those tours, like the one I led this morning, are through a collaboration with a large tour company here in town. The tours I lead are specifically focused on the history of the black community that thrived on Beacon Hill during the nineteenth century.
The tour went extremely well. A number of students approached me at the end to thank me personally. One student even shared that it was the first history tour that she actually enjoyed.
Their group leader, however, was not pleased with my 2-hour tour. As far as he was concerned what I had covered was not American history. I took this to mean that the stories I chose to cover were not that of the Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, Bunker Hill and the individuals I chose to highlight were not Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere.
Of course, I immediately responded that everything I covered on the tour is American history. In fact, I framed this tour by suggesting to the group that the stories we would explore are just as important as anything they would hear on the Freedom Trail that winds from the State House all the way to Charlestown and Bunker Hill.
The brief conversation with the group leader is a reminder that we still have a ways to go in reaching beyond the traditional narrative here in Boston and beyond. I say this while fully acknowledging the important work that museums and historic sites continue to do here in Boston and the surrounding area to highlight African American history.