People don’t know as much about the antislavery efforts in Lowell, and several locations downtown were important abolitionist hubs. Create a popup trail similar to downtown history trail or even a permanent monument to commemorate the Underground Railroad.
Underground Railroad Monument
Educate and celebrate Lowell’s history and learn from the past.
I think this is an important and promising project. Here and elsewhere, honoring the work of abolitionists is both a useful and instructive task. That said, I wonder if there is a way to broaden this into “sites of resistance” related to histories of enslavement, abolition, and freedom. Too often, commemorations of abolition end up focusing on narratives of exceptional white people as “rescuers.” Such efforts take the focus away from broader networks of interracial cooperation and black resistance.
In the mid-19th century, abolitionists who visited or resided in Lowell found some receptive audiences. In the larger frame of history, however, most Lowellians were content to profit off of slavery in the South. Some of their ancestors and antecedents had also enslaved local people (indigenous persons and Africans). I do think it’s possible to acknowledge these complex histories as well as the work of people who fought to end slavery and/or support fugitives in the North. Along these same lines, this project should devote considerable space/weight to the lives of African Americans living in the area starting in the 17th century. This is an important aspect of local history that is rarely given much attention.