/Project Seeks to Uncover Boston’s Abolitionist Past

Project Seeks to Uncover Boston’s Abolitionist Past

Bostonians and tourists walk past history every day, and many may not even realize the historical significance of the area they are treading upon.

The Abolition Acre Project, still in its early stages of development, is being created to highlight, honor and celebrate the abolitionist movement in Boston.

The Beacon Hill Scholars, a non-profit volunteer group of history enthusiasts, are currently in the talking stage with the city of Boston to implement a project they call the Abolition Acre. The group is currently working to secure funds, hoping to receive most of it from private contributions.

They will need to get permits from the city to locate the placement of informational kiosks.

Horace Seldon, who recently passed away, was the founder of this project. Boston is a city that many tourists and locals walk through daily, but some of the history related to abolitionists of the area had been forgotten until Seldon and the Beacon Hill Scholars channeled their efforts into showcasing the hidden history.

Seldon started the tours years ago. According to Christle Rawlins-Jackson the president of the Abolition Acre Project, Seldon brought life to the tours that very few could accomplish.

Also involved in the effort is Project Coordinator Peter Snoad.

The tour features important snippets of African American history in the Beacon Hill area that have been ignored, according to Rawlins-Jackson and Snoad.

Tour stops include, the Redbrick Corridor, The Old Courthouse and Prison, the intersection of Cornhill and Franklin Avenue and Washington Street. Snoad said there are no landmarks in that area now.

The tour stops, which include information on the Anti-Slavery Women’s Society and William Lloyd Garrison’s work, help demonstrate how the North was not completely the anti-slavery institution that American history has taught.

Snoad said that the Acres project aims to bring historical figures to life through visual and audio technology.

Rawlins-Jackson adds that the mission of the project is to spark a conversation about the roles of both the northern and southern states.

While the South was seen as the main proponent of slavery, the North benefited from the slave labor done in the South, Rawlins-Jackson said. She explained that the North made the textiles that came from cotton picked in the South

“The North is like the belly of the beast,” Rawlins-Jackson said.

The People Behind the Project

Peter Snoad, a former reporter and British-American playwright, has been a vocal advocate for equal rights. Through his productions, “The Guided Play” and “Raising David Walker,” Snoad urged the audience to link past historical events, such as the Abolition movement in Boston, to similar events n the city today.

Snoad is a member of Community Change, an anti-racism non-profit that brings attention to racial inequality. His new theater production, which is currently in the works, deals with the history of slavery in Massachusetts.

Christle Rawlins-Jackson, president of the project has activism in her blood. Before joining the project she was the design director for a newspaper and still works as an artist.

“Genealogy fed my art,” said Rawlins-Jackson, adding that her family’s history inspired her to enter the arena of social justice.

Together the two activists have worked to elevate the contributions of abolitionists such as David Walker, and William Lloyd Garrison, as well as the late founder of the project, Horace Seldon.

“[They] are the spark and we are the activators,” Rawlins-Jackson said.
— Emma Williams