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The Coast Cafe Mural
The Coast Cafe Mural

HONORING BLACK HISTORY IN 2021

Listen, learn and explore; support Black history being made in Cambridge too!

Thu Feb 4, 2021

Before founding the NAACP, did you know W.E.B. Du Bois had ties to Cambridge? He was Harvard’s first Black Ph.D.! The first Black fire chief, Patrick H. Raymond, was also a Cantabrigian. Find out more about Black history in Cambridge and honor it with us this month:

Listen to Black Voices.

Join Cambridge Public Library for a free poetry reading on Wednesday, Feb. 17. The library will host Nate Marshall, the rapper, educator and award-winning author of “FINNA.” Reserve your seat for this virtual event now. 

Don’t miss Harvard Book Store’s talk with Heather McGhee, former president of the think tank, Demos. Now a talented author, McGhee will discuss “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.” Tickets are available for this virtual event taking place Friday, Feb. 19. Pay-what-you-can options will be offered. 

Lesley University’s Black History Month speaker is best-selling author Jason Reynolds! On Tuesday, Feb. 23., tune into “The R-Word: How Racism Spread Across the Nation." A Q&A with Reynolds will follow. Read on for more Black History Month happenings at Lesley.

Learn from Black Art.

View the #BlackLivesMatter installation in the Lunder Arts Center at Lesley University. Over 135 names line the windows of the gallery, representing Black lives lost. The exhibit includes a narrative on racism, anti-racist resources and the history of slavery in Massachusetts.

At the Harvard Square Kiosk, you’ll find artwork spotlighting influential Black musicians. Local artist Lennie Peterson’s portraits of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and John Coltrane stand at five feet or taller. From size to color selections, the components of each piece symbolize these musicians’ legacies.

Explore Black Landmarks.

Discover the pasts of famous, former Black residents with the African-American Heritage Trail. The 20 markers on this self-guided tour highlight the accomplishments of historical figures like Harriet Jacobs. 

Another must-see landmark is the Prince Hall Monument. This memorial on Cambridge Common is dedicated to Prince Hall, the founder of the first Black lodge within the Masonic Order. 

Support Black Livelihoods.

Every Black-owned business adds their own unique flair to the fabric of Cambridge. When locals think about flair and the fabric of our community, Great Eastern Trading Co. comes to mind. Thanks to owner Nephtaliem McCrary, you never know what eclectic fashion awaits you in-store or on Etsy. His shop has brought vintage vibes to Central Square since 1969. 

Speaking of Central Square, one last recommendation we’ll make is to visit Anthony Brooks and his family at The Coast Café. The Coast Café lets you sample Southern cooking without leaving the state! Chef Brooks serves up soul food like fried catfish, collard greens plus sweet potato pie. You can see him in action at Soul Food 101, a virtual cooking class hosted by Cambridge Public Library on Tuesday, Feb. 23. 

History is being made by Black business owners every day. For tons more ideas about how to support them, browse the Black-owned directories made by Cambridge Local First and Central Square BID.

Whether buying Black, studying the past, reflecting on art or celebrating Black voices, Cambridge has meaningful ways you can honor Black history. Excited to share what you're doing for Black History Month? Tag @CambridgeUSA on social media and we will repost!