Celebrating Black History Month with the New Bedford Whaling Park

(Image via wpafb.af.mil)

Volunteer Writer: Isabella Gerardi

Email: Igerardi@umassd.edu

Black History Month is celebrated every February and takes on a new theme each year. 

In 2023, Black History Month will recognize “Black Resistance,” which addresses how African Americans have stood up to extreme racial oppression throughout American History, with a focus on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s through the 1970s. 

This month hopes to honor and celebrate the impact of notable boycotts, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the student-led lunch counter sit-ins that aimed to end segregation in the American South. 

This year’s theme also calls out the horrible history of violence and lynchings that occurred while uplifting the voices of activists like Ida B Wells, who brought the attention of the nation to these injustices. 

February was declared black history month in 1976 in part because this is the month the NAACP was established, as well as Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglass’s birth month. 

(New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park – Image via pinterest.com)

There will be plenty of ways to celebrate Black History Month in the New Bedford area. 

The New Bedford Whaling National Park will be offering four main activities throughout the month, recognizing black history and New Bedford’s own history regarding the underground railroad.

These events are aimed at remembering the past and addressing the impact black history has on today’s society.  

The first event will be a showing of the movie Harriet: an American Legend, held on February 4th in the Visitors Center at 1 PM. 

The second event will be a virtual talk held on February 9th over zoom at 6 PM. This lecture will discuss the role New Bedford played in the underground railroad. The talk will also cover local leaders in the abolition movement and discuss how the whaling industry and coastal trading made it a desirable destination for those escaping slavery. 

The third event is another virtual talk held on February 19th at 2 PM and concerns the life of Fredrick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was an activist and abolitionist who lived in New Bedford for a period of time. 

The fourth and final event will occur on February 25th at 6 PM. This will also be a virtual event that aims to address “Black Entrepreneurship Then and Now.” This event will be held at the Corson Maritime Theater, on 33 William St, New Bedford. This lecture will be discussing historical examples of black entrepreneurs in New Bedford and will highlight local black businesses currently based locally.

(New Bedford Whaling National Park Visiting Center – Image via nps.gov)

The New Bedford Whaling National Park hopes to show the complex history of New Bedford and illuminate the role that New Bedford has played in black history throughout the years. 

These events aim to be an exciting and informative way to celebrate black history month while keeping people informed of the interesting local history surrounding New Bedford. 

UMass Dartmouth students can learn more about the area’s local history and culture by attending the events offered by the National Parks this February. 

Some of the events do require pre-registration online, which is offered through the New Bedford Whaling National Park’s official website

There are many ways to celebrate Black History Month this February. It is important to remember the important work done by activists, both locally and nationally, to create a better future. 

This February, there is a focus on remembering the many activists during the civil rights movement, and local events such as those offered by the National Park are a great way to celebrate American citizens’ fight for freedom and equality.


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