New Bedford schools working on Frederick Douglass Curriculum

Frederick Douglass will soon be getting his due in the city’s public school curriculum.

Beginning next year, students in Grades 8-10 will study the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” the autobiography written by the then-young future abolitionist who arrived in New Bedford in 1838.

Students in the middle and high school grades will also read Douglass’ “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” — one of the renowned former-slave-turned-abolitionist’s most admired speeches. read full story

Your View: All New Bedford students should read Frederick Douglass’ 1845 narrative

Some 6,000 American slave narratives exist, and one of the best of the genre is the 1845 “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself.”

It is a short, powerful, accessible and inspiring book written by the greatest, most eloquent and best-known self-educated individual ever to have lived in New Bedford. Learning how an enslaved and viciously beaten youngster became a free man by learning to read and write (largely on his own and despite serious obstacles), and having the opportunity to discuss the first and shortest of his three first autobiographies with their classmates and with informed and insightful teachers might actually give disaffected, struggling students the courage to stay in school. read full story

A heritage ignored no more – Exhibit highlights Cape Verdean backbone of New Bedford’s whaling industry

By James Sullivan
Globe Correspondent / June 24, 2011

President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde lauded the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s exhibit exploring the ties between the city and the island nation. (Photo By Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe)

NEW BEDFORD — Jim Lopes’s great-grandfather was a New Bedford whaler who emigrated from Cape Verde in 1873. Lopes’s grandfather also worked on the ships in the waning days of whaling prominence in this coastal city.

For him and others with similar backgrounds, he recalled, “It was not a welcoming place.’’Yet Lopes, who grew up four blocks from the New Bedford Whaling Museum on Johnny Cake Hill, remembers feeling little connection to the city’s chief cultural institution, chronicler of his ancestors’ livelihood. In those days, the museum emphasized the industry’s Yankee captains and financiers, not its diverse crews.

That impression has changed dramatically in recent years, with the staff of the 107-year-old museum working diligently to honor those from other cultures — the backbone of an industry that made New Bedford the wealthiest city on earth, per capita, in the mid-19th century.

A new exhibit opening July 5 will focus on Cape Verdean heritage and the island nation’s contributions to New Bedford whaling. To kick off the exhibit, the museum will host several cultural events next week.

Lopes, an entertainment lawyer and professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, now serves as the museum’s vice president of education and programming. He was instrumental in soliciting the Cape Verdean community for donations of family keepsakes — photos, uniforms, logbooks — for the new exhibit, which opens on Cape Verde’s Independence Day. For more than a decade, he has been filming interviews about Cape Verdean whaling in America.

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Teachers become students of New Bedford’s abolitionist history

NEW BEDFORD — In an upstairs room at the Main Library, in the midst of July’s swelter, 80 students searched for new friends after they were instructed by their teacher to form groups for a reading activity. read full story

“Traveling” the Underground Railroad in New Bedford

Teachers across the United States are already circling the month of July 2011 on their calendars.

That’s when they’ll have a chance to come to New Bedford to learn about the city’s important historical role in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad.

The opportunity is being made possible through an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture program. “Sailing to Freedom: New Bedford and the Underground Railroad” is a collaborative project between the University of Mass. Dartmouth, the New Bedford Historical Society, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, the Rotch Jones Duff Museum and the National Whaling Historical Park. read full story

Boston Radicals Found a Home in New Bedford

It was called “the New Bedford Annex for Boston Radicals,” and at the dawn of the 20th century, the well-appointed house on Arnold Street was one lively place.

Owned by African American lawyer Edwin Bush Jourdain, the house in the West End section of New Bedford saw the likes of W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter debating strategies that challenged the accommodationist policies of Booker T. Washington.

To this day, Jourdain’s descendants confirm that at one time their ancestor’s house had been frequented by the black intelligentsia, who exchanged ideas, rehearsed speeches and executed plans for curing the ills facing black Americans. read full story

Underground Railroad stops mark abolitionist milestones

For thousands of African-Americans fleeing the bonds of slavery in antebellum America, the escape routes of the Underground Railroad that crisscrossed New England were lifelines to liberty. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, a countless number of clandestine “stations’’ were part of the informal network of safe havens for runaway slaves.  read full story