Saturday, May 18, 2024

Dennis, Beverly Parks, Lia Thomas and Egypt Lloyd. (Photo Credit: Slave Legacy History Coalition)

History Cambridge and the Slave Legacy History Coalition was “excited to announce” they are entering a strategic partnership, leaders said Monday.

Established in the fall of 2021, the SLHC is a consortium of individuals, organizations and institutions engaged in the preservation of the history of enslaved people in the communities of Cambridge, Boston and beyond. As a recently founded organization, it is in the process of applying for its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. In the meantime, History Cambridge will act as its fiscal sponsor and provide administrative support. 

History Cambridge has served as the fiscal sponsor of the Cambridge Black History Project for several decades, offering administrative support for the all-volunteer organization. The relationship with SLHC will be similar.

The Slave Legacy History Coalition was established by Lloyd family descendants of Tony, Cuba and Darby Vassall, whose enslavers endowed the first law professorships at Harvard University, which eventually became Harvard Law School. Since its inception, SLHC has developed educational programming and monthly virtual gatherings to bring together organizations engaged in documenting histories tied to slavery and the accomplishments of slave descendants. Their mission is to help “connect the spokes on the wheel of slavery.”

The Lloyd family has worked with the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket and Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery to produce digital humanities projects such as WeClaimSpace.org, an online exhibition of Darby Vassall.

In addition to interactive, digital media that celebrates Black resistance in Boston and Cambridge, the coalition has partnered with National Park Service sites such as the Longfellow House National Historic Site to create public programming that educates visitors about the history of enslavement, Black liberation and persistent legacies of the past.

“The Slave Legacy History Coalition’s mission is to provide easier access to information and resources on the legacy of slavery before and after emancipation for both the families of slave descendants and the general public,” founders Dennis and Egypt Lloyd said. “We hope to create one central site where anyone can find and retrieve information on the legacy of slavery. The Slave Legacy History Coalition greatly appreciates the support and assistance of History Cambridge.”

History Cambridge’s executive director, Marieke Van Damme, said in return that History Cambridge was proud to support the work of the coalition. “Its mission is closely aligned with ours, as we both strive to bring people together to learn about all aspects of history,” Van Damme said. “It is vital that we undertake this work now as the nation readies to commemorate America 250 in 2026 and Cambridge 400 in 2030.”

Other Cambridge organizations involved with the SLHC are the Cambridge Black History Project, the Cambridge Historical Commission, the Cambridge Room at the Cambridge Public Library, Christ Church Cambridge, First Church Cambridge, Harvard University and the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site.

Learn more about the Slave Legacy History Coalition at slavelegacyhistorycoalition.org.

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About History Cambridge

History Cambridge started in 1905 as the Cambridge Historical Society. Today we have a new name, a new look and a whole new mission.

We engage with our city to explore how the past influences the present to shape a better future. We recognize that every person in our city knows something about Cambridge’s history, and their knowledge matters. We support people in sharing history with one another – and weaving their knowledge together – by offering them the floor, the mic, the platform. We shed light where historical perspectives are needed. We listen to our community. We live by the ideal that history belongs to everyone.

Our theme for 2022 is “Who Are Cambridge Workers?” Make history with us at historycambridge.org.


Talia Franks is communications manager for History Cambridge.