In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the African Meeting House in Boston, the Museum of African American History presents a year-long exhibition, A Gathering Place for Freedom. The exhibition embodies the proud history of the free and self-emancipated black community of 19th century Boston who organized itself to build its own institutions as to lead in the movement to end slavery in this nation. The African Meeting House offers a unique window on this history that begins with the actual physical structures where people worked together to secure the promise of the Declaration of Independence.
The exhibition includes early maps, architectural sketches, photographs, paintings, poetry, historical newspaper articles, archaeological artifacts, antique books and sculpture.
About the Gathering Place for Freedom
Fifteen years after the passage of the Bill of Rights, the African Baptist Church was dedicated. Officially consecrated on December 6, 1806, the church was part of the established tradition of African American excellence and enterprise in Boston. The women, men, and children who made up the first congregation of this church established a holy sanctuary for worship and a much-desired school that would support African American education.
The red brick church would house historic abolitionist meetings, would accommodate unforgettable lectures, would resound with children’s voices reciting their lessons and singing, and would host recruiting meetings for brave black Civil War regiments . All who entered into this stately building on Smith Court, found that there, the freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, was upheld. The church also protected freedom of the press supporting abolitionist newspapers like The Liberator and Freedom’s Journal. The church enabled people of all races to assemble in peace. The African Meeting House was a mighty gathering place for freedom.
Lois Brown, Ph.D.
Co-Curator and Exhibition Scholar,
Marion Kilson, Ph.D.
Co-Curator and Exhibition Scholar