Challenging History: On The Streets of Newtowne

TUE, MAY 16, 2023 (58:41)

What was Cambridge like back when it was called Newtowne and even before that? A new history book, ostensibly for kids, aims to paint a more multi-dimensional view of the area charting its cultural influences and history starting back 10,000 years ago, when indigenous people farmed, fished and built communities there. The Massachusett tribe were the first documented humans known to have lived on this land.

Art Historian Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies has just published “The Streets of Newtowne: A Story of Cambridge, MA.” Blier, a Cambridge civic activist, serves as President of the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association, a group she helped to found in 2017.

Joining her to help amplify our understanding of Newtowne’s diverse past are Nicola Williams, President of The Williams Agency, located in an historic building on Story Street. Once a boarding house run by former slave Harriet Jacobs, who self-published her book, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” Jacobs went on to become an abolitionist, activist and suffragette. Williams serves on the board of the Sustainable Business Network of Boston. Also Sage Carbone, Community Programs Director for the Fenway Community Development Corporation. Sage is a descendant of the Massachusett tribe and a resident of Cambridge, where she is active in the collective Cambridge City Growers which distributes thousands of seedlings to urban gardeners.

Augmenting the historical discussion will be Daniel Berger-Jones, in the guise of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who delivered his famous “American Scholar” address in the church in 1837. This speech was referred to as America’s “Intellectual Declaration of Independence” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Turn up in person or sign up now to register for the event.


Winthrop Park – Cambridge’s first Puritan settlement and the first Planned City in North America is under the care of the Winthrop Park Trust:

The Vassal-Craigie-Longfellow House on Brattle Street (National Park Service)

Ned Blackhawk’s new book “The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of US History”

Link to Cambridge Day article on MIT and Indigenous People genocide

Impage copyright: Envato

+ BIO: Suzanne Preston Blier

Suzanne Preston Blier (Ph.D. 1981 Columbia, Allen Whitehill Clowes Professor of Fine Arts and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University) is an historian of African art and architecture in both the History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies Departments. She also is a member of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and Faculty Associate at the Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative.

+ BIO: Sage Carbone

Sage Carbone is a member of the Northern Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island and an East Cambridge resident. She is a graduate of Wheelock College, where she majored in humanities with a focus in History and minors in visual arts, sociology and human rights, and of Simmons University, where she received a dual master’s degree in business administration and communications management. Carbone is a co-founder of Cambridge City Growers, a neighborhood organization that rematriates underused spaces to grow food and manages the Coast Community Fridge at the Cambridge Community Center, including with 2021 funding support from the Cambridge Community Foundation.

+ BIO: Nicola Williams

Nicola Williams founded The Williams Agency in 1995. Nicola, with over 20 years of industry experience and international respect, is recognized for superior problem-solving, project management, relationship building, and strategic planning skills. She has a strong marketing background in marketing management, market research, brand development, advertising, public relations, sponsorship development, and event promotions. She is passionate about making a difference and is constantly sought after for public engagements. Williams was the producer and one of the founding organizers of the Boston Local Food Festival, Boston’s premier food event and top 10 food events in the City. She is the brainchild of Boston JerkFest and Vermont JerkFest, Caribbean-style foodie events that launched in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Cambridge Forum